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Robby Gordon Returns to CART This Weekend

September 23, 1997|SHAV GLICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Robby Gordon, whose season-long foray into NASCAR Winston Cup racing has not produced hoped-for success, will return to CART this weekend to drive Carl Hogan's Reynard-Mercedes in the Marlboro 500 at the California Speedway.

Gordon will replace Hogan's regular driver, Dario Franchitti of Scotland, who is leaving to drive for Barry Green's Team Kool next season. Gordon has said he plans to drive with CART next season.

It will be Gordon's second attempt to race at California Speedway. The former off-road racing champion from Orange was injured in a crash during practice for the NASCAR California 500 last June and missed the race.

Besides a full Winston Cup schedule, during which he scored only one top-five finish in 20 starts, Gordon drove in the Indy Racing League's Indianapolis 500. He moved from 12th to second and had just passed eventual winner Arie Luyendyk when his car caught fire on Lap 19. Gordon jumped out and rolled in the grass to extinguish the fire after suffering first and second degree burns on his hands and right thigh.

Gordon will miss Sunday's Hanes 500 at Martinsville, Va., but will return to Felix Sabates' Winston Cup team for the final five races of the season.

Steve Park, who has been driving Dale Earnhardt's car in the Busch Grand National series, will replace Gordon at Martinsville.

"Robby had an opportunity to pursue his options for next year and we did not want to stand in his way," Sabates said. "We are pleased to have Steve Park in our car and give him some experience for next season."

Earnhardt has announced that Park will move up to Winston Cup next season.

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