News & Media

Notebook: Gordon seeking investors, selling team

February 18, 2012, The Associated Press,

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In one breath, Robby Gordon is bemoaning the fact he couldn't quit NASCAR even if he wanted to. He has money tied up in a race shop and airplanes, with crew members depending on him for their livelihood.

Minutes later, though, Gordon is talking with boundless optimism about the potential of Speed Energy, a brand of energy drink that he's trying to market on his own.

And does he have a deal for you.

"Race team's for sale," Gordon said. "It's been up for sale. Really, what I'd like to do, I think the smartest thing for us to do as we're talking candidly here, would be to bring in investors that have more opportunity to [attract] big sponsor relations.

"Obviously, I can drive it, we can run it, but between doing that and operating Speed, we need people that have more relations than I have."

The 43-year-old Gordon has been an owner/driver in NASCAR since 2005, and the former Indy driver has had his moments -- including a second-place finish at Infineon Raceway in 2010.

But there are challenges, too.

Does he make money in NASCAR?

"Right now? No," Gordon said. "We haven't made money in NASCAR in a long time."

Would he consider getting out?

"I've got a 100,000-square-foot building," Gordon said. "Unfortunately, I've got airplanes that I can't even afford to use today that are sitting there, I'm still paying insurance on them, I'm still paying payments. The race shop, it's not paid for, obviously I'm paying rent on it. So I'm stuck. Plain and simple."

Gordon later reconsidered his use of the word "stuck," saying he would prefer to stay in NASCAR on a limited schedule and take on investors.

"The reality is, I don't want to be all the way out," Gordon said. "I would like to run about 15 stock car races a year. That would be my goal."

That would allow him to continue pursuing his diverse racing interests outside of NASCAR -- and continue to build Speed Energy, which he insists is on its way to becoming a marketing success that can grow to take on the likes of industry titans such as Red Bull.

Ganassi signs open wheel standout Larson

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing has signed 19-year-old racing standout Kyle Larson to a developmental contract, putting him on the path to a potential future in the Sprint Cup Series.

The Elk Grove, Calif., native won a total of 22 major professional feature races last season, including victories in the World of Outlaws sprint car series and all three United States Auto Club national divisions. Last fall, he swept the 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway, winning in three different styles of race car -- midgets, sprint cars and silver crown cars -- in the same night.

Now Larson hopes to follow a similar path from open wheel racing to NASCAR, as drivers Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne did before him.

"We're comfortable running sideways," Larson said. "So when the car gets out of shape, we're not really uncomfortable."

Larson is Japanese-American and will compete in the NASCAR East Series next season as a participant in NASCAR's diversity program.

Larson is thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Drive for Diversity -- he'll run at Bristol next month -- but says he doesn't spend too much time thinking about how a person with his background fits into a sport that wants to become more diverse.

"I don't pay much attention to it," Larson said. "I just go out there and race."

For Larson, it's the next step in a journey that started when he was only a week old, and his parents brought him to his first race.

"I've been around it my whole life," said Larson, who first drove a go-kart when he was four and entered his first competitive kart race at age seven.

Larson was highly regarded by teams in both NASCAR and IndyCar. He said meeting team owner Chip Ganassi played a role in his decision to sign with the team.

"Just a great guy," Larson said. "I went to meet him once last year, and he was really outgoing."