Friday, February 29, 2008
R. Gordon might enter both Indy 500, Coca-Cola 600 if he loses appeal
By Marty Smith
LAS VEGAS -- If Robby Gordon Motorsports loses its appeal next week of the penalty levied by NASCAR for a rules violation committed during Daytona Speedweek, Robby Gordon may choose to enter the Indianapolis 500.
Robby Gordon Motorsports was penalized 100 points and fined $100,000 for installing an illegal nose on the No. 7 Dodge at the outset of Speedweek.
Gordon told ESPN.com Friday that if his team loses the appeal, and is unable to rebound into Chase contention by May, he will attempt to run the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the same day.
In the past, drivers -- including Gordon from 2002 to 2004 -- have attempted to run both races in the same day. But the races' start times in recent years have created logistical conflicts.
"If the fine sticks, I will go to the Indianapolis 500," Gordon said. "The only way I wouldn't is if we're in a position to make the Chase in May."
If indeed this happens, Gordon is uncertain whether he would field his own car or drive someone else's. Gordon does believe, though, that he has an excellent opportunity to win this appeal, which will be heard March 5 by the National Stock Car Commission in Daytona Beach, Fla.
"You never know with [appeals], but I've learned a lot through this process," Gordon said. "And the more I learn, the more I feel like we have in our favor."
The part in question, the nose piece on the car, is not a NASCAR-certified part, Gordon said. It is distributed to the teams by the manufacturer, so Gordon said it amounts to a clerical error by someone not even on his team.
The infraction was discovered during opening day inspection for the Daytona 500, before the car ever graced the racetrack. So Gordon believes the penalty is disproportionate.
"If you modify certified parts [to gain] a competitive advantage, you're asking for it," Gordon said. "This was a clerical error. We feel like we have a good opportunity to win this appeal, but it has been distracting."
Gordon said the penalty also has hurt the perception of his team. Races remain on the schedule for which Gordon hasn't yet secured sponsorship.
"When sponsors are looking at your team, perception is important," Gordon said. "This made us look bad."
Marty Smith covers auto racing for ESPN.com.