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NASCAR driver Robby Gordon fired

MOORSEVILLE, N.C., March 21 -- One of the most unlikely combinations in NASCAR Winston Cup racing ended Wednesday after just five races.

Team owner Larry McClure fired Robby Gordon as driver of the Kodak Chevrolet. Kevin Lepage is expected to be his replacement, beginning with Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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Gordon originally agreed to a five-year contract with the Winston Cup team owner from Abingdon, Va. When Gordon was hired to replace Bobby Hamilton at the end of last season, it was met with tremendous skepticism. Because of his "I know best" attitude, Gordon has never lasted with the same team for a significant period of time.

After breaking into the sport in off-road racing and sports car racing for the Ford Motor Company, he raced for Junie Donlavey in 1991 in NASCAR Winston Cup. He then jumped over to CART where he competed for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing in 1992 before signing with team owner A.J. Foyt in 1993.

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His time with Foyt was very stormy and he left the team at the end of that season to race for Walker Racing in CART. He won two races for Walker in 1995 and finally lived up to his star potential. But by 1996, Walker and Gordon had reached the end of their relationship and Gordon jumped to NASCAR Winston Cup racing and joined Sabco Racing.

Gordon won a NASCAR Winston Cup pole at Atlanta in just his fourth race with the team, but his decision to run in the 1997 Indianapolis 500 with Sabco was the beginning of the end of his relationship with team owner Felix Sabates.

Gordon was burned in a crash in that year's Indianapolis 500 and missed several races while recovering. By the time he returned to the wheel of his race car, his relationship with Sabates had deteriorated and the team released him late in the year.

Gordon then jumped back to CART, where he raced for Arciero-Wells Racing in 1998 and then raced for his own team, Team Gordon, in 1999. He drove in the Indianapolis 500 for Team Menard that year and finished fourth.

At the end of the 1999 season, Gordon jumped from CART to NASCAR Winston Cup where he started his own team, but with the lack of proper financing, Gordon raced in a limited schedule. He was also able to return to the Indianapolis 500 for Team Menard last year.

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With Team Gordon short on funds and with a ride opening at Morgan-McClure Racing, Gordon struck a deal with the team owner. He brought some associate sponsorship with the team and closed down his operation.

Gordon was the fastest driver on the opening day of practice for the Daytona 500, but he finished 37th in the Daytona 500, 26th at Rockingham, 34th at Las Vegas, 20th at Atlanta and 29th last Sunday at Darlington.

Rumors of his departure began to surface after Rockingham and the team released a statement Wednesday that said, "Morgan-McClure Motorsports/Kodak and driver Robby Gordon have agreed to terminate their contract. This change is effective immediately. A driver for the No. 4 Chevrolet for this weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway will be announced on Thursday. Morgan-McClure will name a permanent driver at a later date."

Indy Racing League team owner John Menard said he would consider Gordon as a second driver for this year's Indianapolis 500 but is committed to a one-car team with Greg Ray for the full Indy Racing Northern Light Series season.

IRL and NASCAR Winston Cup team owner A.J. Foyt shook his head when told of Gordon's latest dismissal.

"I like Robby even though we didn't get along very well that year we raced together," Foyt said. "I think Robby Gordon could be a hell of a race driver if he had an operation and had his vocal cords removed."

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