Originally created 08/15/04

Gordon confident he'll catch drivers up front



WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - The only future event Robby Gordon cares about is today's Sirius at the Glen road course race at Watkins Glen International.

He's not too worried about anything beyond that.

While his future with Richard Childress Racing could be in jeopardy, the former open-wheel driver said he plans to storm from 23rd place on the starting grid and into the lead in the final road-course race on the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series schedule. His approach, despite the swirling rumors about his future, hasn't changed. He will rely on his best weapon - confidence.

"We're sitting 23rd in points; that will make it exciting to see if we come from 23rd to the front," Gordon said. "Jeff Gordon starting on the front row is a big advantage for him. But we'll see. The first couple of laps will be real important. We'll get as many cars as we can and catch them sleeping and race from there on."

Rain washed out practice and qualifying Friday, so today's starting lineup was set by the car owner point standings. That put Jimmie Johnson on the pole and Jeff Gordon, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, on the outside pole.

Robby Gordon swept both road course races a year ago; Jeff Gordon won the race at Sonoma, Calif., in June to become the winningest road course driver in NASCAR history with eight wins.

And to make the competition between the Gordons even more compelling were the results of the final practice session Saturday afternoon. Robby Gordon was the fastest; Jeff Gordon was second.

"We're going to beat him a half a second a lap," Robby Gordon. "We're going to pass him and go to the front. There's no reason we can't beat him straight up starting 23rd. We don't need race strategy or anything. We came from 20th last weekend and got to him. There's no reason we can't come from 23rd on a road course."

Last week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon led 124 of 161 laps to win the Brickyard 400 for the fourth time. Robby Gordon got as close as fourth, but his chances ended with a flat tire.

If the final practice session was any indication, Robby Gordon wasn't being overconfident about his chances. His lap speeds were a half-mile-an-hour faster than Jeff Gordon and nearly 1 mph faster than the third-quickest driver in the session, Jeremy Mayfield.

"Here it's different (than at Sonoma), because you only really have one somewhat of a low-speed corner down in Turn 1," Robby Gordon said.

Robby Gordon said today's race won't influence his future. Childress hasn't decided whether Gordon will return to his team next year, but he hinted Friday - the day he announced Jeff Burton would drive one of his other cars starting next week at Michigan - he is looking at other options.

"It takes one domino to fall and that's going to put everything else in play at RCR," Childress said. "The dominos fell. We got that thing rolling."

RUSTY RETIRING: Rusty Wallace turned 48 Saturday and there is continued speculation he's about to announce his retirement tour.

Wallace likely will announce next month the 2005 season will be his last.

The 1984 rookie of the year and 1989 series champion is a co-owner at Penske Racing South and he started his own Busch Series team this year.

Reach Don Coble at doncoble@bellsouth.net