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2009 Ride: No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Dodge
2009 Primary Sponsor: Jim Beam
Associate or One-Time Primary Sponsors: SPOT, Interstate Batteries, Quaker State, Richmond Water Heaters, Pittsburgh Paints, JohMs manville, Moen, Hard Rock Las Vegas, Polaris, Camping World, Freightliner, Schrock Cabinetry, Mapei, Sylvania, Menards.
2009 Owner: Robby Gordon
2009 Crew Chief: Kirk Almquist (Feb. – Oct.), Doug Richert (Oct. – Nov.)
Stats: 36 Races, 0 Wins, 1 Top 5, 1 Top 10, 0 Poles, 34th in points.
Best Finish: 3rd (Coca-Cola 600).
Average Finish: 28.5.
High Point: The aforementioned third place at Charlotte, one of three races in which Gordon led a single lap. Using pit strategy once the rains came, Gordon stayed out on track while almost the entire 43-car field around him pitted for fuel, leaving him third when the red flag waved that would eventually stop the race for good. Gordon also led three laps in the second Talladega race, and was possibly in line for a decent finish when eliminated in the crash on lap 189.
Low Point: It had to be once Silly Season heated up in the Fall, when he lost the closest thing he had to a full-time sponsor, Jim Beam. At press time, Gordon has yet to find the funding Beam was willing to provide him through a limited schedule of events.
Summary: Gordon’s entire season was a lesson in survival through salesmanship. Nobody with as few resources as he has succeeded in attracting so many associate and one-time sponsorships. Gordon finished 34th in points, one position lower than 2008, nine points ahead of 35th, and was running at the finish in 26 of his 36 races. His average start was in 30th spot, his average finish in 28th.
The replacement of Almquist by Richert in October could have an effect on the team’s performance as owner/driver and crew chief become more acquainted, but they have to make it to the starting grid on a regular basis for it to pay off. Therein lies the rub.
2010 Outlook: Robby’s outlook for 2010 is not good at the present, to put it mildly. He admits to having full-time funding for only eight races at present. This is something of a surprise, since he has survived against seemingly insurmountable odds while so many underfunded teams are simply giving up and closing their doors.
No doubt his off-road racing success, including a couple of championships in 2009, helps him when it comes to dealing with sponsors, but the toll taken by the economy is beginning to have a serious effect, by Gordon’s own admission.
“No one is spending money,” he says. “Everybody is cutting the fat out of everything. To be in racing, you have to be a pretty big company.”
Roger Penske admits that there are few companies willing to put up $15 million or more to sponsor a car for the entire season, even if that car is being fielded by a well-established and successful operation. This makes Gordon’s success in finding enough support to continue (to date) something on the remarkable side.
2006 Frontstretch.com Grade: C.
2007 Grade: C+.
2008 Grade: D.
2009 Grade: D-.
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Robby Gordon was the victim of other peoples wrecks at least 8 times in the 2009 Cup season. All 4 plate races – February Daytona Jr bumps Vickers into Robby and a lot of others also, Spring Talladega Hamlin changes lanes knocking Robby into the inside wall, Spring Daytona Robby runs into the big Kyle Busch finish line wreck and the Fall Talladega white flag wreck when Brad Keselowski bumps Kurt Busch. Both Phoenix races – in the Spring when Michael Waltrip knocked Robby into the wall and the Fall race in the caution flag restart jam-up in front of Robby. Finally, he was wrecked in both Dover races – in the spring when he was bumped off the track into the inside wall (a real hard head-on hit) and the Fall race when Tony Stewart bumped Joey Logano into his big flip that Robby couldn’t avoid running into.
Any other driver with worse luck in 2009?