Race Weekend Central

2011 NASCAR Driver Review: Robby Gordon

Robby Gordon

2011 Ride: No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Dodge
2011 Primary Sponsors: Speed Energy Drink, Bashas, Food City, Food 4 Less, Fast Five, Harris Teeter, Sam’s Mart, Walgreens GNC, MAPEI, Menards
2011 Owner: Robby Gordon
2011 Crew Chief: Samuel Stanley
2011 Stats: 25 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 0 poles, 14 DNFs, 34th in points

High Point: Hard to pick, as the team was struggling all season. Probably that 16th at Daytona, a strong start for a car that really could only be in contention during the restrictor-plate and road-course portions of the schedule.

Low Point: Also hard to pick, for the same reason. Probably when, after a series of finishes in the 20s and 30s, Gordon indicated he would become a start-and-parker in May if he couldn’t attract more sponsorship. That was followed by the team dropping out of six straight races with brake problems, and another with a vibration. Two of the brake failures came with Scott Wimmer at the wheel and one with Johnny Sauter driving. In only one of those did they complete more than 100 laps, when Sauter went 101 trips around in the first Kansas event.

Wimmer drove the car once more and Reed Sorenson was behind the wheel four times as Gordon left the driver’s seat for much of the season’s second half. Robby was paying a lot of attention to his off-road efforts, of course, and was using other drivers in an attempt to keep the car in the Top 35 in owner points. It didn’t pay off, as he ended up 38th in those standings.

Summary: Gordon drove 25 races himself in 2011, finishing 34th in the driver standings. The team completed 5,615.3 miles with him at the wheel and earned $2,271,891 in prize money. Gordon was running at the finish only 11 times and led a total of 18 laps. Not exactly any stellar statistics for a driver who was once a winner at the Sprint Cup level.

Once more, Gordon’s most impressive quality appeared to be keeping this self-owned team operating. In Oct. 2010, he announced that he would run only the first five Sprint Cup races of 2011, because of being guaranteed a starting spot from his 2010 points, and then would run the “fun” races. He apparently considered starting-and-parking “fun” to an extent and managed to make 33 races overall.

But as a team, the No. 7 failed to qualify three times and really struggled to gain traction without the proper funding to compete. By midseason, Gordon had pretty much resigned himself to start-and-parking, claiming not enough exposure from television and other media sources left him with little choice.

“If you don’t come to the racetrack, you don’t learn,’’ Gordon said to former Hampton Roads reporter Dustin Long this summer. “I can’t help it that we can’t find a sponsor to pay for right now. I can’t help that. I’ve tried. Trevor Bayne doesn’t have any sponsors on his car and he won the Daytona 500. That’s the reality of it. We’ve tried hard and this is what I love to do, so I’m going to continue to fight the fight.”

“When I can learn to qualify my car back inside the top 15 again, then we’ll worry about racing. We can still come and get exposure. I get as much exposure starting and parking as I do racing. Because the only time they ever show me [on TV] is during qualifying. Right? They only show five cars on the racetrack. That’s the reality of it. That’s the reality. There’s going to be more sponsors that look for exposure that are not getting the value because the media is so focused on Danica, Junior, Tony, 10 guys.’’

2012 Outlook: Gordon has stated that he plans to run “some” 2012 races, and declined to give up the No. 7 to Stewart-Haas Racing for use by Danica Patrick.

Also, Gordon reportedly has plans to return to the Indianapolis 500 as General Motors apparently plans a new commitment to racing. Those plans may work out for 2012 as a new car and involvement by Chevrolet are foreseen.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: C
2007 Grade: C+
2008 Grade: D
2009 Grade: D-
2010 Grade: D
2011 Grade: D-

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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