tampabay.com

R. Gordon, Ford reuniting

By BRANT JAMES
Published October 15, 2006


CONCORD, N.C. - Robby Gordon and Ford hope their reunion will be as successful, but maybe not as eventful as their first time together.

Gordon began his race career with Ford in 1990 driving off-road trucks and then a sports car for Jack Roush. He won four straight times in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. But before leaving the CART series for NASCAR full time in 2002, Gordon once called his Ford Cosworth engine a "pig" and said only Honda drivers had a chance to win. He also kicked the Ford logo on his car on national television after his engine expired in the final laps with him leading the 1996 Detroit Grand Prix. He left to drive for Felix Sabates' NASCAR team the following year.

Older, presumably wiser and a driver/owner in a climate when those individually difficult jobs can be crushing together, Gordon officially announced on Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway that he is switching from Chevrolet to Ford beginning next season.

"We will use their tools, their engineers, their support, their wind tunnel time, their 45 percent model and all of their engineering staff to help us improve our program," Gordon said. "Obviously, these are some of the tools that Hendrick (Chevrolet) and Everham (Dodge) are using today, and we've been working on building our cars to this level. Right time is the right time to change manufactures, like we did."

Ford Racing Technology director Dan Davis said he's not interested in talking about Gordon's earlier departure from the company that gave him his start as a teenager.

"That was a different Robby Gordon, and that was a different Ford Motor Co.," he said. "It's behind us, there are no hard feelings - we're done. Let's bury it and forget it. And I don't want to hear about it anymore."

Gordon has three Nextel Cup victories - two on road courses - when he drove for Richard Childress, none since 2003. He began Saturday night 27th in owner points.

SPARK PLUGS: Though the details of driver contracts are not made public, Davis might have slyly given some perspective into what Mark Martin will make after leaving Roush Racing for a 22-race schedule at MB2 Motorsports next season. "Somebody walks in your office and says they really want to hire you, and we'll pay you three times what you used to be paid and you don't have to work as hard - I'm saying that's maybe what happened to one of my friends," Davis said. ... Both Penske Racing drivers had to start the race at the back of the field, but for different reasons. Kurt Busch had his third-best qualifying speed disallowed because of an illegal right rear shock. Ryan Newman had to use a backup car after crashing in practice.