Friday, June 29, 2012

Benny Gordon: The driving force behind SR2 Motorsports

Benny Gordon
Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images
If you’re a fan of the NASCAR Nationwide series, you’ve probably noticed the No. 24 car of SR2 Motorsports. The team was birthed in late 2011 by car owners Jason Sciavicco and Mike Ruch. When the two decided to put together a program for the Cope twins, they enlisted the help of NASCAR driver Benny Gordon, who was Angela and Amber Cope’s driver coach.

“I’ve been racing all my life,” Gordon said. “I know the business...so they came to me to run it and use my stuff.”

Gordon drives, works on his own cars and owns the equipment needed to launch a team, plus he’s brought home a checkered flag or two. In his 8-year stint in the CARS Pro Cup Series, (formerly called USARacing) he was Rookie of the Year in 2003 and won two national championships, in 2005 and 2008.

But Gordon doesn’t offer up his impressive stats, such as winning more than one-fourth of the CARS Pro Cup Series events he started: 32 wins in 112 races. Instead, he humbly talks about his current challenges, such as securing sponsorship and finding the right employees.

“We’re trying to hire people, but that isn’t the easiest thing to do,” he said. “We’re being selective of who we hire to build this team.”
Gordon (center) is as comfortable under the hood as
behind the wheel or atop the pit box.
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs

For now, Gordon is a multi-tasker for SR2 Motorsports, switching gears from driving the car to working under the hood to “crew chiefing,” as he calls it.

The team has run the No. 24 in every race so far this season.

“We decided to go to Daytona at the last minute and ran well,” Gordon said about his 12th place finish in SR2’s debut race. “They (Sciavicco and Ruch) bought some more cars and I ran the first six races, but I didn’t have any sponsorship money to continue on.”

That’s when Gordon moved to crew chief and the team brought in other drivers: Tanner Berryhill, Casey Roderick, John Wes Townley, Angela Cope and Gordon’s fellow Pennsylvanian, Tim Bainey, Jr., who drove the car at Dover in his first NNS start.

“So now we’re doing basically rental-type deals and the car is good and locked in the points, so it makes it worthy of the type of money you need to keep the operation going,” Gordon said.
Gordon (left) and crew member
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke 

The change to crew chief didn’t sit well with some of Gordon’s fans, who would rather see him behind the wheel.

“I’ve had a good fan base for a lot of years and I really appreciate all of those people,” he said. “It’s pretty neat that they’ve enjoyed it that much that they want to see me keep going. But I also enjoy the coaching and crew chiefing side of it.”

In fact, Gordon said he almost becomes more competitive from the pit box, because he wants the young drivers to do well. Still, he hopes to drive a few more races himself this season and get Angela and Amber behind the wheel more.

Gordon gives his driver last-minute instructions at Dover
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke
SR2 owns two cars, the No. 24 and the No. 00, which Angela drove at Charlotte in May.

“We would like to have both numbers running at some point,” Gordon said.

To learn more, visit the SR2 Motorsports website or follow them on twitter:
@SR2Motorsports
@BennyGordon24
@AngelaAmberCope 

Fun fact: The team name comes from the car owners’ names. S is for Sciavicco. R2 is for two Ruchs, Mike and his sister, Rita. It is pronounced “SR squared.”
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SR2 Motorports 2012 NNS season so far for the No. 24 car:

Race                     Driver                  Finish

Daytona             Benny Gordon           12
Phoenix             Benny Gordon           27
Las Vegas Benny Gordon           30
Bristol                Benny Gordon            24
Fontana             Benny Gordon           22
Texas                Benny Gordon           33
Richmond         Tanner Berryhill         29
Talladega          John Wes Townley   15
Darlington   Casey Roderick         40
Iowa                  Casey Roderick          20
Charlotte           Casey Roderick         21
  2nd entry/No. 00 car Angela Cope   36
Dover                 Tim Bainey Jr.             25
Michigan            Angela Cope             28
Road America  Casey Roderick        32


Beth Bence Reinke writes "Gibbs Garage," Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup team recaps, for the 2012 season. Her Skirts and Scuffs column, “Faith on the Frontstretch,” explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth is the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a devotional book geared toward female NASCAR fans. Follow Beth on Twitter at @bbreinke or reach her at bbreinke@SkirtsandScuffs.com

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