Robby Gordon Motorsports
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|Base||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Series||Sprint Cup Series|
|Race drivers||Robby Gordon|
|Debut||2004 Hershey's Kisses 300|
|Latest race||2012 Toyota/Save Mart 350|
In 2000, after spending the 1999 season racing in Champ Car open-wheel racing, Team Gordon, owned by Robby Gordon, John Menard, and Mike Held, moved to competition in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series; the team struggled, and closed after the end of the season, with Gordon moving to drive for Morgan-McClure Motorsports.
In 2004, Robby Gordon and John Menard bought back the former TEAM Menard base for North Carolina. There Robby Gordon started his own Busch Series (Now Nationwide Series) team deciding to run part-time for the 2004 Busch series. He won one win that September, at Richmond in his self-owned No. 55 Fruit of the Loom/Menard's/Mapei chevy car gaining public notice to Robby Gordon Motorsports. Like his NASCAR Cup series, his first win was on an oval track rather than a road course. When he won his win at Richmond, he had previously announced resignation from RCR and told reporters that he was likely going to race the RGM team for both the Busch series and Cup series in 2005. This was later confirmed.
Robby Gordon Motorsports had a nice start with a few top tens, a few top fives, and a win in the Busch Series in 2004.
Gordon purchased the defunct Ultra Motorsports for the 2005 season with Menard as a business partner and former owner Jim Smith being listed as owner for provisional points. In 2005, Menard built engines for RGM with little success, as the engines were prone to failure. This led RGM to switch engine suppliers and lease from Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Robby Gordon had a conflict with some sponsors. Red Bull Energy suddenly decided to leave RGM because rival Monster Energy expressed desire to support Gordon in his NASCAR operations as a big sponsor. Eventually Monster Energy got its' sponsorship and Red Bull was permitted to leave. Red Bull continued its' NASCAR operations by founding Red Bull Team in 2007.
In the NASCAR Busch series Robby Gordon received top ten finishes in the road course races and a few top tens in the oval track races.
However his 2005 Cup Series campaign was disappointing. In 2005 Robby Gordon took his own RGM number No. 7 and only got two top tens in total for the season. Robby Gordon came close to winning or ending up in the top ten in the 2005 Sylvania 300 but a caution had ruined his day. After fellow driver Joe Nemechek spun with Mike Bliss, Gordon had made a pass on driver Michael Waltrip. After the caution was reviewed for Mike Bliss and Nemechek's crash the camera turned to see that Robby Gordon was wrecked severely. NASCAR heard from Robby Gordon that Michael Waltrip had spun him just as the caution flew seconds after he had passed Waltrip. Robby Gordon was so furious that he first tried to turn his car around to wait for Waltrip to come back around and then crash him; but when his car failed to move Gordon tried to pull backward in front of Waltrip but when this attempt at revenge failed also, Gordon finally climbed out of his car and tossed his helmet on Waltrip's hood. In reply Waltrip on the radio mockingly repeated Robby Gordon's own words Gordon said in 2004 in one race at the same track "He just threw a helmet on my car...well that is just rude. It was his fault."
Then on a radio minutes later to a reporter Robby Gordon said "You know everybody thinks Michael is this good guy. He is not the good guy he like acts he is. The caution was out, and he wrecked me, and he is a piece of s***."
To exchange peace offerings between each other, RGM permitted Gordon and Waltrip to sign the mostly unscathed helmet and auction it with the purpose of donating to the Hurricane Katrina victims in 2005. The helmet was bought by GoldenPalace.com for $51,000 and the helmet remains on display in the headquarters of GoldenPalace.
In October 2006, Robby Gordon Motorsports signed with Ford Racing, running the Ford Fusion in 2007. The car was sponsored by Jim Beam, Mapei, Camping World, and Monster Energy Drink. RGM used Roush/Yates engines.
In 2006, Gordon came near to another NBS victory. At Watkins Glen in late summer, Gordon led ten laps but was passed by Kurt Busch with about 15 laps left. Busch held off Gordon for the rest of the race. On the final lap, Gordon charged at Busch and managed to nearly push Kurt into a mistake on the straightaway. Gordon tried to pass Busch in the inner loop, but he did not have enough momentum. Gordon then got side-by-side with Busch and their cars locked together. After a struggle, Kurt held onto the lead to eventually win the race. In victory lane, Busch thanked Gordon for a good fight, saying that it "reminded him of his fun fight for victory with Ricky Craven at Darlington in 2003."
In 2007, Robby Gordon Motorsports had a breakout year. In the Nextel Cup series, Gordon performed really well. He was about to end up in 25th place at the Daytona 500, but because of a last lap accident he ended up finishing in 15th place. He finished 17th at Las Vegas and qualified second at Sonoma. There, Gordon got by Jamie McMurray on lap one and had a 35 lap streak of domination. However, because of pit stop shuffling, Gordon finished in 16th place. He then criticized race winner Juan Montoya saying "I am happy for Juan but he did not really win. He only won because of luckiness in stretching a little bit of gas. You don't win by luck."
In late 2007, Gordon had one of his most controversial and bizarre NASCAR finishes ever. Driving in his own No. 55 Camping World sponsored car in NASCAR's inaugural race at Montreal, Robby passed the then-leader Marcos Ambrose for first place but was turned around by Ambrose in turn three just after the caution flew for a separate incident in turn one. During the caution period Gordon refired his car after slowing to avoid hitting the wall and drove to first place. However he was told that by freezing in place to avoid the wall was not reasonable caution speed and NASCAR told him to restart in 14th place which he refused to do. At the restart Gordon was immediately black-flagged for refusing to restart in 14th place, and tapped the leader Ambrose enough to send the Aussie into a spin in the second turn with two laps to go. He ignored the black flag on the white flag lap and even though he crossed the finish line first Kevin Harvick won the race. Gordon however did not leave the track as ordered and then celebrated on the track as if he won the event. Gordon did have a valid argument as he was spun by Ambrose while slowing down for the yellow flag that had already waived. He was visibly upset during his post-race interview and was adamant that he had indeed won the race. The next day NASCAR fined him $50,000 and put him on probation for the rest of the year.
To make amends with Ambrose who had ended up in 7th place after refiring his car to finish; Gordon gave Marcos Ambrose his second RGM car the No. 77 Menard's racecar for some Sprint Cup races and the promise that Ambrose can race in the No. 77 car any time he would like in his career. The car was filled with decals of Marcos Ambrose' Wood Bros. sponsors Kingsford Coal, and Clorox combined with RGM sponsors Menard's and Camping World RVs. The last time Ambrose has raced in RGM's No. 77 car is in 2008 when he tested it in a practice run for a cup race. Marcos Ambrose accepted Robby Gordon's apology and forgave him. Robby Gordon and Marcos Ambrose have now become close friends and have attended parties together.
After the disappointing weekend at both Montreal and Pocono, Gordon redeemed himself from his penalty by driving from 29th spot at Watkins Glen to 5th place. With four laps left, Gordon had the fastest car and was in contention to win but Ron Fellows was able to hold him off and he couldn't break into the top four.
During the preseason testing prior to the 2008 Daytona 500, RGM switched to the Dodge Charger, using Evernham engines. However, due to the sudden switch, GEM could only give Gordon a Dodge Charger nose for testing. Gordon received the correct nose, a Dodge Avenger nose with Charger decals, before the Daytona 500, and finished 8th at Daytona. However, he received a 100 point penalty from NASCAR along with a $100,000 fine. Many fans and sponsor Jim Beam started a "Rally for Robby" campaign, protesting the penalty, although it was standard in most 2007 COT penalties. On March 5, the National Stock Car Racing Commission made a decision on the penalty. The championship driver and owner points were reinstated making the No. 7 Dodge 21st in the Sprint Cup Standings. The suspension of Frank Kerr was retracted, but he remained on probation, and the fine was increased to $150,000.
Late in the year, GEM and RGM were embroiled in a lawsuit, concerning a potential merger between the two organizations. The suit was eventually dropped, but in the process the partnership was dissolved and Gordon switched to Penske Racing engines.
For 2009, Gordon made another manufacturer switch, the team's fourth in as many years, and fielded Toyota's for the season. Gordon ran 35 of the 36 races, with David Gilliland running at Richmond, finishing 24th. Robby Gordon's greatest finish on an oval track for a long time and his greatest finish for 2009 came at Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600. There under caution he was trying to decide whether or not to make a bet to stay out for the rain that soaked up the track. He made the bet but David Reutimann and Ryan Newman made last second decisions to stay out. When the race was called official minutes later, Robby Gordon ended up in third place. Had David Reutimann and Ryan Newman pitted before the red flag, Robby Gordon would have won the race.
A second RGM team, the No. 04, debuted for the first time in 2009, with P.J. Jones finishing 43rd at Infineon and 41st at Watkins Glen. David Gilliland attempted the race at Kansas, but failed to qualify for the event.
For 2010, Robby Gordon Motorsports aligned with BAM Racing and continued with Toyota. Starting with the 2010 Daytona 500, Robby Gordon Motorsports expanded its partnership with Monster Energy Drink to include sponsorship in some Sprint Cup events. RGM's alliance with BAM Racing was to allow BAM Racing's sponsor Warner Music Nashville to sponsor Robby Gordon's #7 Camry starting at California as well as the events at Atlanta and Bristol. For the first half of 2010, the team had floated in and out of the Top 35. At the 2010 Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500, the team had its first DNQ since 2005, with Ted Musgrave driving. A major penalty by another team moved the No. 7 back into the top 35. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 proved to be the best race in 2010 for Robby Gordon Motorsports, Gordon finished second in the race and a second RGM entry, the No. 07 car driven by P. J. Jones, qualified and finished 41st. Former series champion Bobby Labonte drove at New Hampshire.
Following 2007's Montreal race, Robby Gordon showed his sorrows by willingly skipping two races at the track. In 2010, he declared he would return for redemption. He showed respect for what happened in the past, and respected all his fellow drivers. He accepted his 2007 penalties but seemed to have no regrets in spinning out Marcos Ambrose three years prior; when asked by reporters about his goal that day, he chuckled and said "You mean since I won? I still have a banner and trophy I made in my hauler, we came back for redemption and we'll do the best job we can." Robby Gordon would lead the race for 33 laps and nearly won, but ran out of gas with two laps left and finished in 14th place.
Gordon stepped out of the No. 7 to allow Kevin Conway to drive. Conway, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year contender, having been released from his ride at Front Row Motorsports, brought his sponsor ExtenZe with him. Conway drove the locked-in No. 7 in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol while Gordon moved into the No. 07 that Jones was originally supposed to drive. Conway qualified 40th and finished 36th in the while Gordon qualified 37th and finished 40th. Gordon did not enter the Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta, fielding Conway in the No. 7. Conway had the slowest time of all 47 qualifiers, but due to RGM being in the top 35 in owners' points he started 42nd. Occasionally, Gordon and Conway switched between the No. 7 and No. 07 rides in order to keep the #7 team in the top 35. Conway started and parked in five out of the seven races he ran with the team, with his only full race coming at Fontana, resulting in a 31st place finish. The No. 7 team finished 32nd in 2010 owner's points. It was later announced following the season that RGM would sue ExtenZe for lack of payment, much like Conway's former team, Front Row Motorsports, had done.
Gordon returned to Sprint Cup in 2011, but for only 25 races. He returned to Dodge and started his own brand of energy drink, Speed Energy, as a sponsor. Gordon's best finish of the year was 16th at the Daytona 500, though he also parked the car in ten starts. He attempted the 2012 Daytona 500 with sponsorship from Mapei and Speed Energy. During practice at Bristol Motor Speedway, Gordon's Electronic Fuel Injection, or EFI, shorted out and was not repairable, therefore, the team was forced to withdraw. It was then announced that the team would not enter until Sonoma Raceway, which to date is their last attempt and start in the Sprint Cup Series.
RGM did not race in NASCAR in 2013 due to Gordon launching his new Stadium Super Truck Series. NASCAR then re-assigned the No. 7 to Tommy Baldwin Racing and Dave Blaney. The No. 7 is currently used by Michael Annett with TBR.
Off-road racing history
Besides his NASCAR racing career. Gordon has competed in a few other racing organizations as an owner. He's won the Baja 500 three times in 1989, 1990, and 2005.
In 2009 Robby was declared the winner of the Baja 500 but was stripped of the title in one of the most controversial decisions made in the sport. The officials accused Gordon of speeding illegally and having an illegal fueling system. Gordon appealed but it was denied and Gordon was put in 7th place for the final results.
In 2012 at the Dakar Rally, Gordon won the final stage under controversy of his tire inflation being illegal. This was proven false and Gordon won by 15 minutes ahead of the second place finisher.
- Mills, Roger (February 12, 1999). "Menard Puts CART Behind His Horse". St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, FL). p. 11G. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
- Dutton, Monte (November 22, 2000). "Profile: Robby Gordon". The Argus-Press (Owosso, Michigan). p. 14. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
- Pearce, Al (November 15, 2013). "Michael Annett to replace Dave Blaney in Tommy Baldwin Racing's NASCAR Cup seat in 2014". Autoweek. Retrieved 2013-11-15.