Robby Gordon 'stuck,' searching for investors

CHRIS JENKINS AP Sports Writer Published:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- In one breath, Robby Gordon is bemoaning the fact that 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."

Gordon has been a driver-owner in NASCAR since 2005, and the former standout in Indy-style racing 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.

"I think I have something a little different than what everybody else has," Gordon said. "One, I have a driver built into the system, OK, so you don't have to go hire a driver. The other thing I have is a potential multimillion or multibillion dollar business built into the model with Speed. And it takes partners to grow that as well. Before we go public with it, I would be open for investment -- private investment first, and then we will take it public."

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COOTER'S COUNTERPOINT: Former "Dukes of Hazzard" actor and ex-Georgia Congressman Ben Jones doesn't see any problem with letting the General Lee take a lap around the racetrack.

In a statement, Jones lashed out at NASCAR's decision to cancel a planned appearance by professional golfer Bubba Watson at Phoenix International Raceway next month. Watson was going to drive a parade lap in one of the 1969 Dodge Chargers featured in the show, which Watson bought at an auction, before the March 4 Sprint Cup Series race.

But NASCAR and track officials called it off because the car has a confederate flag on its roof.

"As a cast member of 'The Dukes of Hazzard' and the owner of several 'General Lees,' I can attest that the car and our show reflect the very best of American values, and that Hazzard County was a place where racism was not tolerated," Jones said. "This action by NASCAR is a provocative and unnecessary overreaction to a problem that doesn't exist. It is a disgraceful and gratuitous insult to a lot of very decent people. It is prejudicial toward those goodhearted folks who, like Uncle Jesse Duke, are in fact 'never meanin' no harm.'"

Jones played mechanic "Cooter" Davenport on the show.

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SWEET 16: Roush Fenway Racing's Greg Biffle led both practice sessions Saturday, making he and the No. 16 team a favorite to win pole position for the Daytona 500 in Sunday's qualifying.

Biffle figures about eight cars have a shot at the pole.

"We're definitely one of them, but some other guys still have some speed left," Biffle said. "The thing that concerns me a little bit is that's about all we've got."

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SPARK PLUGS: A television reality show will give three aspiring racers the opportunity to win a chance to compete against Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick and other professional drivers. "Bud United Presents: The Big Time" will air Feb. 25 on ABC. ... Ryan Lochte, a three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer and Daytona Beach native, will serve as Grand Marshal for the first of two qualifying races Thursday. ... Rocker Lenny Kravitz will perform in the Daytona 500 prerace show.