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NASCAR's growth could create opportunities for drivers

Posted: Thursday February 06, 2003 8:31 PM
  Robby Gordon - Winston Cup Mailbag

Now that more and more crossover stars such as yourself are competing in NASCAR, do you think one day the sport will have drivers or owners from F1 or World Rally Championship come knocking on NASCAR's door for a chance in the spotlight?
-- John, Lauderhill, Fla.

NASCAR just continues to grow and grow. Who knows? We could have F1 and World Rally drivers and teams over here one day. The F1 and World Rally teams are based in Europe, so I think it would be difficult for them to move, but the drivers could more easily pack up and cross over. But one obstacle I see is that F1 drivers, for the most part, don't have a lot of oval-track experience, and that's something that takes a while to get accustomed to when you move over to NASCAR.

I had the privilege of meeting you at Nazareth Speedway a few years ago when you still ran in the CART Series. Any chance you'll do double duty on Memorial Day weekend and run Indy and NASCAR again?
-- Doc Laba, Allentown, Pa.

I'd love to do the Double on Memorial Day weekend again, so I'm working on getting a sponsor for the Indy 500 right now and I think I'm getting close. Cingular Wireless sponsored me in the Double last May when I competed in the Indy 500 and then flew to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600. That was a blast but it was also a lot of work and an exhausting day. I finished eighth at Indy and brought home a 16th-place finish in the Winston Cup race. If I get the chance to do it again, I'll make sure I take the IV fluids between the races and work out a little more leading up to the race. It takes a lot of stamina to make 1,100 miles.

I talked with you at the July race in Loudon about you forming a Busch Series team and that it would be ready to go at Daytona. I haven't heard anything new about it and I was wondering what was going on with it.
-- Rob Barnett, Bradford, R.I.

I'd say the chances of me starting up a Busch Series team are about 50-50 right now. I have talked with several sponsors and am still pursuing some leads. The performance of the Cingular Wireless Winston Cup team will dictate how soon I can start up a Busch program. Everything has to be going smoothly with the Cingular team before I can dip into the Busch Series, as well.

Billy Beck and I competed with you in Off-Road events on the West Coast and in other venues like Montreal and Crandon, Wisc. How do the demands of Winston Cup racing compare to off-road racing? Do you still compete in off-road events?
-- Kevin Gillaspie, San Antonio

Yes, I remember racing with you guys and hope you're doing well. We had a lot of fun racing off-road and the demands of that sport are somewhat similar to Winston Cup. But we race weekend-after-weekend for 38 weeks in Winston Cup, so the schedule is probably the biggest difference between off-road and Winston Cup. NASCAR is a very time-consuming sport, not to mention all the media obligations that we have as a result of the media members that follow the sport weekly. Yes, I still do some off-road racing whenever I get the chance. I've competed in the Baja 1000 in November the past few years after the Winston Cup season ends. Unfortunately, my schedule with Team Cingular doesn't allow me to do nearly as much off-road racing as I would like.

In the short amount of testing that you have done in 2003, can you tell me if there is much aerodynamic difference between the 2002 Monte Carlo and the 2003 Monte Carlo?
-- Tim, Limington, Maine

There is a big difference between the 2002 and 2003 Monte Carlos. The Cingular Wireless team had to relearn the Monte Carlo at the Daytona test last month. We have to find the 'sweet spot' on the car again and I've got a lot of confidence in everyone at Richard Childress Racing that we will find that 'sweet spot' and perfect set-up for the 2003 car again and be very competitive in the Daytona 500.

What has been your scariest moment inside a race car?
-- Anthony Key, Valley, Ala.

I've caught on fire in a race car two times but the time I caught on fire in an Indy car in 1997 was definitely the scariest. I caught on fire coming off turn two doing about 220 miles-per-hour. We were racing and I realized I was on fire. Not only was the car on fire, but I was on fire, as well. There had been a rain delay the day before and the cars sat there all night. The fuel vent had leaked overnight and soaked me in alcohol when the race restarted the next day. I originally thought my water bottle had sprung a leak, so I wasn't too concerned. But by about the second lap, I realized the entire car and I were on fire. That was the scariest moment in my racing career.

What do the younger drivers think of the older guard of racers like Bill Elliott, Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd, etc.? Do you feel any of these drivers have helped you with your career?
-- Mark Olding, Marshall, Mich.

The most important thing for younger racers is to understand and appreciate what the veterans have done in their careers to get to the point they're at. We younger guys should look at them as examples of how to become successful drivers.

Robby Gordon drives the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Before arriving in NASCAR's top division, Gordon enjoyed success in the CART Series and off-road racing.

Throughout the 2003 Winston Cup season, Gordon will answer questions from CNNSI.com users in a weekly Mailbag. Enter your question below, and Robby will answer selected questions in the coming weeks.

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