In a sport of multi-car operations and technical alliances, Gordon still prefers to go it alone in the Sprint Cup Series. While teammates compare notes and share information, Gordon prefers to rely on his own experience and guile to make his way around the track.
Last year, 33 of the top 35-ranked drivers in the series were part of a multi-car operation. Gordon and Dave Blaney represented the single-car approach in 2008, and of those two, Gordon's team is the only one still in operation.
Now on his fourth different manufacturer in as many years, Gordon insists his business model was built out of necessity, not stubbornness. He likes controlling his own destiny, not only inside the car but also in the front office. He likes carving his way through the business, even if contradicts the standard operating procedures of the bigger, more profitable teams.
Gordon does it because that's what works best for him.
"I have no interest (in merging with another team)," Gordon said. "We're trudging forward and building our race team. I think stubborn is the wrong thing. We're good business people. We're able to operate our team without going in debt and without doing it over the top without controlling it."
Single-car operations, especially when the driver is the car owner, have come and gone in the past 25 years in NASCAR. Most leave defeated and bankrupt. Gordon has been able to build his business by making lasting relationships with his sponsors and using financial restraint.
This Sunday's Daytona 500 will mark his fifth year as an owner-operator in the Sprint Cup Series.
Of the top 35-ranked drivers, two are car owners. The other is Tony Stewart, who has a two-car operation and an agreement with Hendrick Motorsports to provide cars and engines.
Gordon drove for Richard Childress for four seasons, winning twice in 2003. He's not going back to that, either, especially since so many drivers are out of work because owners can't find sponsors.
"If you control your own destiny - what I mean by that is we call ourselves race teams, but we're really just a marketing company that happens to race -- and you're involved in the sponsorship side of it anyway, why not do your own program? We haven't won yet as an owner, but we've learned how to do business in the last four years," he said.
Reach Don Coble at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(FIRST OF 36 RACES)
WHERE: Daytona International Speedway
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Sunday
TRACK DIMENSIONS: 2.5-mile tri-oval with 31-degree banking
BROADCAST: Television -- 2 p.m. Fox-Ch. 54; Radio -- 3 p.m. Motor Racing Network, Sirius Satellite Radio 128
LAST YEAR'S WINNER: Ryan Newman