BROOKLYN, Mich. – Robby Gordon won’t have open-wheel star Kimi Raikkonen driving one of his cars next week at Infineon Raceway, just another twist in what has been a strange season for his race team.
Gordon will race this weekend at Michigan and again next week at Infineon but might not be back behind the wheel of his own Sprint Cup car until the Brickyard 400 in late July.
The driver/owner had hoped to field two cars at the road course at Infineon – one for him and another for Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula One champion. Raikkonen wrecked Gordon’s main road-course car at a test last month.
Gordon just finished getting that car repaired and he and Raikkonen couldn’t work out a deal for the Finnish driver to make his Cup debut for Robby Gordon Motorsports.
Raikkonen had driven in truck and Nationwide races for Kyle Busch Motorsports at Charlotte and left the door open to come back to America to compete at Infineon. Todd Hirschfield of the agency HMS Worldwide, which has brokered Raikkonen’s NASCAR deals, said Raikkonen has no plans to race next week at Infineon.
“I wish, but no,” Gordon said Friday at Michigan International Speedway. “Kimi is a hell of a race-car driver. I am a fan of his at the same time. … He’s talented. These cars are just a lot different than a Formula One car.”
Gordon tested a road-course car in the last couple of weeks while the car Raikkonen wrecked was rebuilt.
“That was my primary car that finished second last year [at Infineon],” Gordon said. “That [crash] was a big deal for us. It will be done by the weekend. It’s a good car. It’s back to what it was.”
Gordon, who has had to start and park his car at times this year due to lack of sponsorship, will attempt to run the entire race at Michigan and Infineon. His next race likely will be Indianapolis in late July. He also has planned to run the Nationwide race at Montreal in August.
He said he might run two cars in some weeks for additional testing.
Gordon is now buying engines and using his own shop to rebuild and maintain them. He was leasing engines from Penske Motorsports.
“I have no beefs at all [with Penske], it’s just a fact of cash,” Gordon said. “It’s a big difference.”
Gordon has driven in only one of the last four races while he has put Scott Wimmer and Johnny Sauter in his car for races where the team has not run the full events.
By putting someone else in the car when he doesn’t have enough funding, Gordon can work on selling his Speed energy drink. The sales of the drink are funding his team. He has a partnership with Walgreens this weekend for product placement, which will allow him to race.
“My sponsorship is different than everybody else,” Gordon said. “It’s all about those relationships and partners with good retailers, and obviously brand awareness.
If I don’t have product in those marketplaces, then I don’t need to build brand awareness in those marketplaces. … I’d love to race more.”
Gordon said sales are going well and the company will soon be able to compete with other energy drinks.
“We’re selling product,” Gordon said. “We have 1,000 more stores this month than last month. … I am in GNC, the only [energy drink] in GNC [because] I’m a vitamin energy drink.”