In the 2001 New Hampshire 300 the race was postponed for the 9/11 disaster/attacks and Jeff Gordon clenched the 2001 Cup championship the previous week at Atlanta. The race was held around Thanksgiving in 2001 and Robby Gordon driving the #31 Richard Childress Racing car, after Mike Skinner chose to retire from RCR after he was nearly killed in a crash at a previous race, won his first race in the Cup series because of an incident with Jeff Gordon who he has no relation to; with 16 laps to go Jeff Gordon was leading hoping to make his points bigger in his inevitable margin against Tony Stewart by winning the race but Robby Gordon in the #31 drove up to second place and made contact. Jeff Gordon spun around as a result giving Robby Gordon the lead. Jeff was angered and rushed under caution to retaliate by (failed) trying to cutting down Robby's tire but was black-flagged before he could make a second attempt to get to the #31's tire. Jeff served a one lap penalty, still won the championship and managed to race in the middle of the pack back up to 15th place and pocket a large purse of money. Robby Gordon on the final restart pulled away from Sterling Marlin and won his first cup race and victory on an oval. This win gave Robby Gordon the #31 RCR car for a multi-year deal after 2001. Jeff Gordon when interviewed maintains that he should have not been penalized and publicly retorted to Robby that he should have been embarrassed to have won in the way that the finish was; Robby Gordon said in reply that he saw Jeff Gordon do something similar to win at a past race, he was not embarrassed and was emotional about his first oval and Cup win. Robby Gordon then promised to donate all his winning money by division to the 9/11 victims' relatives.
During the 2005 running of the Sylvania 300, Gordon was involved in a wreck with Michael Waltrip, the driver of the No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet. The angered Gordon got out of his totaled car and threw his helmet at the No. 15 car as it was passing by. Tony Stewart's No. 20 missed the helmet just seconds after it hit Waltrip's car. When TNT interviewed him about the crash, he stated "You know Michael, everyone thinks Michael's this good guy. He's not the good guy he acts he is. The caution was out and he wrecked me and he's a piece of shit." TNT apologized for his language, and Gordon apologized after the race, but Gordon was fined $50,000 and docked 50 drivers points. When asked by some people for the helmet, Gordon decided to auction it for the benefit of the Harrah's Employee Relief Fund, a fund that provides aid to Harrah's employees displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The helmet fetched $51,100, and was purchased by GoldenPalace.com.
During the 2006 Bass Pro Shops 500, he brought controversy by allegedly throwing roll bar padding onto the track at Atlanta Motor Speedway, drawing a caution flag that had a significant impact for the end of the race, especially drivers in pit road, most notably NEXTEL Cup contender Jeff Burton who wound up finishing 13th. Video from the race was not conclusive as to if he did in fact put debris on the track but NASCAR reacted by docking Gordon 50 points (each in the Driver and Car Owner categories) and a $15,000 fine. Gordon has denied he intentionally threw the debris.
During the inaugural NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007, Gordon was involved in an on-circuit altercation with fellow driver Marcos Ambrose. Gordon passed Ambrose to take the lead at the same time as a multi-car wreck was unfolding behind them; Ambrose spun him, under a yellow flag, to reclaim it seconds later. After an unusually long delay in sorting out the field for the restart, NASCAR eventually determined that Gordon would restart in 13th position. Gordon, who had a strong race all day, refused to go to that position, and was black flagged after the restart, and after spinning out Ambrose. Gordon did not come in for his penalty and was then given the black flag with diagonal white cross, meaning that his subsequent laps were no longer being scored. As a result, he finished 18th. Following the race, Gordon proceeded to do burnouts on the front straightaway as if celebrating his victory, alongside race winner Kevin Harvick. He announced in a post-race interview that he would appeal the result of the race. However, NASCAR suspended Gordon for the following day's race at Pocono. In a statement released soon after the NASCAR announcement, Gordon apologized for his actions but maintained that NASCAR made a mistake in telling him to line up in the 13th position.
Gordon was docked 100 driver and owner points as a result of rule infractions during Speedweeks of 2008 at Daytona. Gordon's car was found with an unapproved front bumper cover. His crew chief Frank Kerr was suspended for 6 weeks until April 9, 2008, was fined $100,000, and placed on probation until December 31, 2008. Gordon was not fined. Gordon appealed the penalty issued by NASCAR in of February, 2008. Gordon issued a press statement. "This was an innocent mistake made by someone not even on our race team. They accidentally sent us the new Dodge noses that haven't yet been approved by NASCAR." According to NASCAR Robby Gordon's Dodge nose says Charger, but it is actually an Avenger and it had the approved nose's part number. On March 5, 2008, the penalty against him was rescinded by NASCAR following the appeal, and he gained back his 100 driver points and the suspension was lifted. Despite this, the fine was increased to $150,000.
Gordon's off-road finishes have also been the source of controversy. His second place finish in the San Felipe 250, March 2009, was overshadowed by allegations that in a very remote area he verred off course and drove down a cliff. The maneuver let him bypass a difficult section of the course, get ahead of another competitor without having to pass, and was a four mile shortcut. Trophy Truck competitor Ed Herbst filed a protest, which was supported by evidence from a pit crew known as the Baja Fools who had set up a pit stop in that section of the course. On investigation, two sets of Toyo tire tracks (identical to those on Gordon's truck) were found which established the four-mile shortcut. The protest was denied based on the fact that given Gordon's average speed, the four-mile shortcut would not have changed the results. After initially filing an appeal of the decision, Herbst, who shares a sponsor with Gordon, elected to withdraw the appeal and the results were deemed final.
Likewise, Robby was initially declared the winner of the 2009 Baja 500 on June 6, 2009. However, he was stripped of the title and moved to seventh place after it was determined that he violated two rules: one a fueling violation, the other a highway speed violation. A total of 100 minutes in penalties were assessed: 90 minutes for the more serious fueling violation where an amateur video proved that he illegally received fuel on the highway, and 10 minutes for the speed violation.
Gordon's troubles with NASCAR rules continued in 2009. He was caught with excessive rear toe (angle of the wheels to the car) after the May 27, 2009 Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. This illegal adjustment permits the car to carry more speed into the corner. Gordon was docked 50 points and his crew chief was fined $50,000. Gordon elected not to appeal the infraction.
In 2010, the car Gordon owns and drives was found to have illegal parts during inspection on May 7, 2010 before a race at Darlington Raceway. Gordon was docked 25 owner points and 25 driver points. His crew chief, Samuel Stanley was fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation for the rest of the year. This fine brought Gordon's five year total to $290,000 paid to NASCAR.
On March 4, 2011, Gordon was placed on indefinite probation in NASCAR due to an altercation he had with driver Kevin Conway in the garage area the night before. According to published reports, the two were involved in a scuffle over lawsuits each has filed against the other. Las Vegas police confirmed that Conway filed a criminal complaint charging Gordon with misdemeanor battery.
On August 25, 2011, Danica Patrick officially announced her plans to leave the IndyCar Series to race in NASCAR and expressed her hope that she'd keep the number 7 that she's had throughout her motorsports career. Gordon, who has raced under many numbers but had the number 7 for the last six years, refused to give up the number, stating: "Why would I?"
After the August 2011 Bristol race, Gordon admitted that he is now a "start and park" driver and will do so for most of the remainder of the season. "Start and park" is a controversial practice whereby a driver starts the race but then immediately parks his car, collecting last place prize money and protecting his car from any on-track incidents. At Bristol, Gordon completed only 10 laps but pocketed $85,960. Detractors of this practice complain that it is a "free ride" that takes a spot away from a driver who want to actually race and also deprives the fans of seeing action on the track.
Ironically, in 2012, Gordon blasted past-champion Terry Labonte for "starting and parking" after 12 laps at the Daytona 500 qualifying race. Gordon stated: "It's just not right. Why take a free ride when the rest of us have to bust our butts to get into the 500?"
Controversy continued to plague Gordon in 2012. While participating in the Dakar Rally, Gordon was running a strong second after nine stages before being disqualified after stewards ruled that the tire inflation system on his Hummer was illegal after another competitor made an anonymous suggestion to the tech inspectors along the rally route, where it was called into question. Gordon stated that if there was a problem with the system, he would plug it and still win stages. He did so the following day, winning the stage by more than 15 minutes in front of the second-place finisher.
Gordon was permitted to continue while the ruling was appealed to the French Automobile Sport Federation (FFSA). The appeal was denied two months later. After Gordon disqualification was upheld, he was stricken from the race results.
Gordon's Hummer crashed and rolled over in the sand dunes of Peru in the penultimate stage of the rally (01/14/2012), but was set back on its wheels by spectators and Gordon continued on to a 10th-place finish of that stage. He then won the final stage the following day, finishing the rally in 5th place overall.
After Gordon qualified for the 2012 Daytona 500, he was critical of the past champion's provisional rule, which allowed 1996 Cup series champion Terry Labonte to park his car early during his qualifying race as he was guaranteed a start regardless of how he finished. Labonte responded that his team had only one car and they needed it for the race. Labonte did run the full race, leading three laps and finishing 18th, while Gordon retired after 25 laps and finished 41st.
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