BROOKLYN, Mich. -- It was made official yesterday -- IndyCar driver Robby Gordon will move to the Winston Cup circuit next season and drive for Felix Sabates.
"He took one hellacious cut in pay to come here," said Sabates. "With all the stuff going on now with the football players and basketball players, where money becomes the most important thing, this is refreshing. I told him he had to make a long-term commitment, and he told me that when he's 40 years old, he wants to be like [Dale] Earnhardt."
Gordon, 26, signed a three-year contract with a three-year option. He will replace Kyle Petty, who has been with Sabco racing for the past nine years. Petty is leaving to form his own team.
This season, Gordon is driving for Derrick Walker, who fields teams in the Indianapolis Racing League and Championship Auto Racing Teams.
Sabates said that he will let Gordon drive in next May's Indianapolis 500 and that his company might field the car.
"He wants to get it out of his system, and I'm going to let him," Sabates said. "I have a contract with Robby. I have a contract with General Motors to do it."
Yesterday, Dan Rivard, director of Ford Special Vehicle Operations, expressed his company's regret at Gordon's decision.
"We're certainly disappointed that Robby is leaving our IndyCar program," Rivard said. "But we wish him well in this new chapter of his career. Robby grew up in our program and is a fine, young, talented race car driver."
ZTC Gordon was in Wisconsin yesterday running in the CART race.
Earnhardt's Chevrolet slammed into the side of Kenny Schrader's and did a 360 into the grass along the front straight before Earnhardt regained control and continued on to a 17th-place finish in the GM Goodwrench 400.
It didn't leave him in a very good mood. And it didn't make Schrader too happy, either. He finished 15th and left the track without comment.
"The Fords are out-classing us," Earnhardt said after Dale Jarrett's and Mark Martin's Fords finished one-two in the General Motors-sponsored race outside of Detroit, the automotive capital the world. "They out-run and out-handle us, too. It's pretty disgusting."
Earnhardt was battling Schrader for 10th when the two collided.
"A lapped car on the outside caused that more than me and Schrader," said Earnhardt, who is still recovering from a broken collarbone and sternum. "I don't think it hurt our car much, but it cost us a decent finish. And I'm hurting. My shoulder hurts more than it did last week, but everything's going to be all right."
Making his points
Points leader Terry Labonte left the track last night having increased his lead from 76 to 134 points. But Labonte wasn't satisfied.
"We picked up some points on Dale [Earnhardt] and lost some to the other Dale [Jarrett], and I finished ahead of Gordon," said Labonte, who finished third. "So point-wise, it was another top five and we had a shot at winning.
"But we've got to go out and keep running as hard as we can and try to win some races. You can't just ride around and try to collect points. This isn't that kind of points race. Not with those guys involved."
Pub Date: 8/19/96