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Ford forgives Robby Gordon by signing him a decade later



Published: Tue, October 17, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The manufacturer can offer him the time and resources he needs.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Robby Gordon readily admits his first stint with the Ford Motor Co. didn't end well, when he embarrassed the manufacturer by kicking at its blue oval logo on national television after one of its engines failed in his car.

But that incident was ages ago, when a younger Gordon did whatever he wanted and didn't seem to care about the consequences.

Nearly 10 years later, Ford has forgiven the cocky (or is it confident?) driver, persuading him to leave the crowded but competitive Chevrolet camp to pilot a Fusion next season in NASCAR's top series.

Both have changed

That Ford was willing to move past that bitter split and align itself with Gordon, who has had his own team since the 2005 season, says wonders about how far the driver has come and how much he's changed.

"That was a different Robby Gordon, and that was a different Ford Motor Co. It's behind us, there are no hard feelings," racing director Dan Davis said. "We're done. Let's bury it and forget it. And I don't want to hear about it anymore."

Getting to this point probably didn't take the entire decade. Instead, the repair work likely was done over the past two seasons, when driver/owner Gordon proved driving down the road less traveled isn't always a bad thing.

See, everyone told Gordon that becoming a driver/owner was a terrible idea, that the last few fools who had tried it failed and nearly went broke doing so. Even worse, the sport has changed dramatically since Ricky Rudd, Bill Elliott and Brett Bodine all gave it a go.

When that last group of driver/owners attempted to run the whole show themselves, single-car teams still were able to compete for wins and sponsors.

Next to impossible

That's next to impossible in today's big-budget NASCAR, where the most successful organizations field four and five cars, share technology and testing information, and spend from a multimillion-dollar kitty of cash.

Gordon listened to all the reasons why it wouldn't work, then focused on why it could.

"There was a guy named Alan Kulwicki that won a championship in a Ford Motor Company vehicle with the No. 7 on it, and he was a driver/owner," he said of Kulwicki's 1992 title.

Gordon is many things, and stubborn might very well be at the top of the list. Tell the guy he can't do something, and he'll make it his mission to prove you wrong.

So Gordon left the security of Richard Childress Racing, where his only job was to climb into the car and race every weekend, to launch Robby Gordon Motorsports, where driving the car is probably 10th on his list of things to do.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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