Single-seater ace turned NASCAR star Robby Gordon will attempt the Indianapolis 500-Coca-Cola 600 'daily double' for the fifth time in his career this 25 May, racing during the day at Indy and in the evening at the Winston Cup Series race in Charlotte.

Gordon, who has previously raced at Indianapolis with the likes of AJ Foyt and the Menards team - and memorably ran out of fuel with two laps to run in 1999 - will be lining up alongside Michael Andretti, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon in the Andretti-Green Racing team this season, having been drafted in to replace the injured Dario Franchitti on the eve of practice.

MC:
Today we will take a look toward the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 with veteran Indianapolis 500 driver Robby Gordon, who competes full time in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, but next month will the drive #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara-Honda in the 500.

Robby has eight career Indianapolis 500 starts and has attempted the Indianapolis-Charlotte 'double' three previous times - in 1997, 2000 and last year. He will attempt to compete in the 500 as well as the Coca-Cola 600 Winston Cup event at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte again this year. Last year, he finished eighth in the Indianapolis 500 and placed 16th in the Coca-Cola 600. His previous best Indianapolis 500 finish was a fourth-place effort back in 1999.

Robby, good morning and welcome. Thanks for joining us today.

Robby Gordon:
Good morning, everybody. How are you today?

MC:
Doing good. Drivers talk about wanting or sometimes not wanting to pull an Indianapolis-Charlotte 'double'. You are in the process of doing it for the fourth time over the last seven years. What is your thought process about all that?

RG:
One, I am thankful because, for a while there, I did not think I was going to get a real strong effort. There were some opportunities to do it, but nothing with a team like a Michael Andretti, Barry Green or - sorry, excuse me now - Kim Green, wrong team! So Andretti Green, they have a good history there at the Speedway. Paul Tracy almost won the race there last year for them, and I feel that Michael and those guys have given me a good opportunity to show up at the Speedway and be real competitive. Over the last few years, you know I have got, what, five top-10 finishes there now?

MC:
Right.

RG:
We have always been at the right place, but it has not been the right time for some reason. We have led the race and run out of fuel in 1995, could have won the race and thought I had a flat tire, still finished fifth, but been through some disappointing finishes. One thing that I do understand is what it takes to be around at end to have a shot at winning the thing.

MC:
Now, you mentioned your success - five top-ten finishes in seven starts. You also mentioned being around at the end. Is there one item you can put your finger on that has kind of helped you get in that position?

R :
I think just starting at a young age, watching how Rick Mears has won that race before and the guy is always around at the finish and that was something that I did not learn the first year. And actually my two DNFs were not because of crashes, but because of blown engines. And, you know, its unfortunate, but what I have learned is you have to be around at the finish to be able to race at the finish for the win. And I have seen Rick fall down a lot before, come back and win the race and work on his car all day long. So, I have tried to do that and got a good feel for the Speedway. I have always run good there and always qualify well there. I think with this effort we have a good shot at possibly winning the race, and that is what everybody goes to the 500 for is to win, and that is our goal.

MC:
Something that race fans and journalists alike tend to do as they get close to May is take all the various racing series' calendars, lay them side-by-side and see how they match up as far as the schedule is concerned. What kind of juggling do you have to do with your schedule to be able to get track time both at Indianapolis as well as Richmond or Charlotte or wherever you are running this month?

RG:
Yes, it is funny you say that. That is actually two questions, and I have two answers for you on that one.

One, for myself, the Indy 500 falls on good time with the Winston Cup schedule. Basically, they have moved Richmond to a Saturday night race, so I did not even miss Opening Day at the Speedway. We do not have a lot going on that week and, the following weekend, pole weekend is an 'off' weekend so I can stay in Indianapolis all week and test there and then qualify on the weekend. The following week is the Winston weekend, but those are all night events at Charlotte, so I can still participate - even during practice they are night events. I can participate during the day practice at the Speedway, fly over to Charlotte and participate in the night practices and not miss out or dilute either effort because of track time. The most important thing is going to be getting good night sleeps and being alert and as good physical shape as I can be possibly in.

You also mentioned something else when you said race fans go off and look at how they can match their schedules and stuff like that. One thing we offered last year - and we are going to do it again this year - is a package out of Charlotte that allows a race fan to do the 'double' with us. We do corporate airplanes to chartered buses with police escorts, to tickets to both events to scanners and everything else. And, last year, I think there were 60, around 60, race fans joined us for the 'double' - this year, we are hoping to get that number around 200.

MC:
You mentioned 'we'. Is this something that you and Richard Childress Racing have put together?

RG:
It is actually something we do through a marketing group I have internally at Team Gordon, and it is something that we have done over the last couple of years. It is already in place this year. I think we have 30 signed up as of today, and we have only put it on the site on Friday, so I am sure we will reach our number. But it is something unique for the race fans is to get to both races. And it is posted on our website, so they could register and sign up.

Q:
Tony Stewart made it pretty clear that Joe Gibbs was not all that supportive about him trying to do the 'double'. What is the reaction with Richard Childress, the owner, and the rest of the [NASCAR] team?

RG:
Well, the last two years, Richard has been part of my Indy 500 effort - not this year, but in 2001 and 2002. Richard is a fan of open-wheel racing and does not have a problem with me doing both events.

Q:
Robby, this is pretty hard effort on your part to do. What do you consider, even though you have done it four times, what do you consider the hardest part for you?

RG:
I think the hardest part last year, I will be honest, was when I got a cramp in my stomach. I did not expect to get a cramp under my left rib section in my stomach, but I am sure that was because of the g-force and dehydration. Last year, I did not take the IV between the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600. I felt so good after Indy and had that adrenaline running. I felt I was fine and I refused it. This year I will take that. But since I had those cramps in Charlotte, I have also gone on to rehydration, I guess like a salt solution drink that I drink before the race, and that helps keep water in my body, and I have not had cramps ever since I started doing that, as well. But I still will take the IV. Eleven-hundred miles is a long way. I have done the Baja 1000 by myself many times, where I do not ever have time for a two-hour break or three-hour break. With the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 'double', I do have that break time and I think, if I am, one, in physically good enough shape when that time comes,
and two, eating right, getting good sleep and take the IV, I do not foresee a problem doing the effort this year like I did last year.

Q:
Do you feel it's more of a physical thing than a mental thing?

RG:
Mentally, I was completely all there. Physically, like I said, I had cramps in my stomach.

Q:
I am wondering, which is more important to you - doing the 'double' and going for the double win, or just making sure you are racing at Indy for the win and getting the win at Indy?

RG:
Man, that is a really, really tough question. You know, obviously we want to go for the win at Indy but, at the same time, we fell two positions in points last weekend to 16th in the Winston Cup. I thought we would have a good run at Fontana and get ourselves up higher in the points, possibly into the top-ten before we did the 'double'. But we fell a couple of positions, so it is going to be important for us to perform real well at the Winston Cup race because of the championship points.

Q:
Given your history at Indy, it is almost ironic that your history and the history of the Andretti's are almost identical - just so close but not able to pull it off. Do you see the irony in that?

RG:
Yes, I do a bit. In one sentence, it is very nice to be driving for Michael because he understands, like I understand, how close he has been close many times to winning the race. I look at myself and say 'God, if we had done this or done this the last couple years, we could have probably won that race'. And for both of us to be teaming up with a team like Andretti Green now, since Michael is an owner in that organisation, those guys know how to win that race, also. And I think they are going to help us, hopefully one of us win this race. And the most important thing is that, at the end of the day, one of our two cars come home in Victory Lane.

Q:
I was interested in your opening statement about being there at the end because I have heard over the last three weeks, talking to three drivers that are going to be in the Indy 500, that they say 'this is a 500-mile sprint'. Yet, hearing you talk about it, it almost sounds like an endurance race, a marathon race, you just pace it and make sure that you are there for a sprint at the end.

RG:
Well, what I do is I make sure the car is comfortable for most of the race. You can only hang on to a loose car for so long, and you need to know what those adjustments are to make the car very free and fast at the end. But there is no reason to be hanging on to a loose car ten laps into the race. I think that is where a lot of people go wrong, and that is something I have caught on to over the years, how to trim the car out for the end of the race and not so much for the beginning.

Q:
Yes, look for that flag, right?

RG:
For sure. What do they say - 'you must first finish to finish first?'

Q:
You are going to drive with Michael in his last race, and how do you feel about that? And also, about your memories ten years ago when you were with Foyt when he called it quits....

RG:
Yes. I have been very fortunate over the years to drive with some of the great names in automobile racing, although I have never driven with Andretti on a team before - or for him. Now I am on the same team and driving for him, so that is an honour. I am ecstatic that Michael actually - and Kim and everybody - picked me to drive the car. Like I said, over the last couple of years, I understand what it takes to be a race team. You must support the whole team. If I cannot win that race, I am going to do everything I can to help Michael win that race.

Q:
Do you still look back at that 1999 race and running out of fuel, when you looked like you had a win?

RG:
I look back at that race. I look back at last year, when we were extremely strong - probably stronger than a lot of people remember - but we had that fuel fire. I think we started 13th or 11th and, by the time the first pit-stop came, we were leading. I'm sorry, not leading, we were inside the top five, and that was a good weekend for us. Unfortunately, we had the fuel fire in pit-lane where the fuel hose got stuck in the car and I ended up having to use fuel from one of Foyt's pits to finish the race. So, you know, I have had so many opportunities to be competitive, and I have let them slip away time and time again.

Q:
Have you ever had any second thoughts about becoming a NASCAR driver full-time, instead of an IndyCar Series driver where you seem to excel pretty well?

RG:
I really have not had second thoughts on it. I mean I enjoy it now. And I want to make this clear - I enjoy racing, and it is not that I enjoy one more than the other. I just chose Winston Cup racing in 1997, and it was something that I have not figured out. I think that is probably the thing that is more intriguing than anything is I have not, I would not say dominated, but I have not got it where we are competitive week in and week out. And that is a goal for me is to prove that I can be competitive in Winston Cup racing.

Q:
Robby, it appears that there will only be something like 34, 36 race cars with motors in them at the Speedway. Isn't it true that you could just as well as show up at the Speedway and work immediately on your race set-up and pretty much put qualifications out of your mind knowing that you are going to start anyway and knowing, I assume, that a really good race set-up is better than an advantageous starting position? Do you feel that way?

RG:
It is a good point made, but I am sure more cars will come out of the woodwork, more engines, more drivers. They always do at the Speedway. There is also that first-turn survival thing, I know Scott Sharp a couple years ago crashed at the front. But that does not happen very often. It seems to happen back in row five, where you have incidents at the start of the race. So, I think qualifying is still very important because it puts you up with faster cars, faster guys, etc. I do not know if I would completely just say 'rule out qualifying, start working on race set-up'. I think they still reward you pretty big for qualifying on the pole there, and I know it is important. I understand what you are saying about just working on race set-up, but with the amount of time that you have at the Brickyard to run, I have always had good race set-ups by the time we have gone racing.

Q:
About the starting position, if you look at photographs at the start for the last 50 years you will see that almost nobody is in position. There is no eleventh row. There is no sixth row. There is no first row. At the moment the race flag waves, you may start at the front end everybody is out of position....

RG:
Actually, they do a pretty good job for the first four or five rows. I know they push us really hard. What happens is the air gets very turbulent back there. And I have had to start toward the back one time and I think, maybe not toward the back, I do not know what my worse start was. I think it was when I drove for Foyt. But I mean I could barely breath back there with all the alcohol coming out of the engines and stuff. That fuel burns, it is kind of foggy and hazy. Like I said, it is important to be inside the top three rows. I know that for sure.

Q:
I just want to ask you a quick question. Even if you win this, which we all think you are very capable of doing, wouldn't you have to come back and want to run it again when Tony Stewart is running with you? Wouldn't you want to beat him?

RG:
Well, Tony has run it with me before, and I am pretty sure I have beaten him every time. So you know, I don't know if that is actual fact, but I am pretty sure of it. It would be nice for him to be there, but I do not know the reason why he is not there, and I really do not want to elaborate on that. Indy is still Indy, and the best guys always show up there. I do not think by any means that Tony has dominated the Indianapolis 500.

Q:
And, as far as your schedule, is it all set now? Are you prepared, schedule-wise, or is it going to take the next couple of weeks to pull it together? I mean is it all set in stone for you?

RG:
Yes, the schedule is pretty much intact. We have a good baseline to work off last year. The Winston Cup schedule has not changed much. It is actually accommodated me a little bit more. I know they did not do that on purpose, but with the Richmond race being a night race it now lets me be there for Opening Day at the Brickyard.