INTERVIEW: Why Todd Gordon is embracing the move from crew chief to broadcast guy

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INTERVIEW: Why Todd Gordon is embracing the move from crew chief to broadcast guy

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INTERVIEW: Why Todd Gordon is embracing the move from crew chief to broadcast guy

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Todd Gordon didn’t go far from the sport and life he loves; he just had a change in scenery.

In the summer of 2021, Gordon announced he would leave his post as a Team Penske crew chief. It was a decision made after much reflection during the pandemic after having more time with his family. Gordon finished out the year with Ryan Blaney and transitioned to the next chapter of his life that still very much involves NASCAR.

“Just a little different workload, though,” Gordon tells RACER.

Gordon, who made appearances on the channel as a crew chief, became a regular on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in 2022 with a co-host slot every Monday night for the “Late Shift” program alongside Brad Gillie. He’s since become a regular fill-in co-host on the channel for other programs.

Motor Racing Network (MRN) also put Gordon to work. In addition to contributing to the network’s independent shows, Gordon joined in for race analysis during a select number of broadcasts.

“This was kind of in the works for me, the MRN piece, after having talked through that (in 2021),” says Gordon. “I ended up doing seven races with them broadcast-wise, and that was a neat experience and cool to do. My MRN commitment was seven races in the broadcast booth as a guest analyst, and we tried to pick the races that played out strategy-wise. So, California – a place with tire wear. Both Kansas races. Homestead. Watkins Glen – that’s home for me – and I did the first Richmond and Pocono.

“I told them when we started talking about it that I didn’t want another full-time job, so that was where we got. I definitely wanted to step away.”

MRN has given Gordon a bit of a routine, which he’s used to after 20-plus years in NASCAR. Ten years were spent in the grind as a crew chief at the Cup Series level.

“Crew Call” is one of the MRN programs Gordon contributes to during the week. Gordon joins the host to interview different members of teams from around the garage.

“That was really what I committed to on the front side of stepping off the pit box and away from Team Penske was to help out there,” Gordon says. “The biggest thing for me, my youngest was a junior in high school, and I wanted to be home. I missed my kids growing up, honestly. I wanted to be home for some of that.

“My oldest was a junior in college and is at Clemson. I’m a season ticket holder down there, and it’s really cool to be able to go to football games and tailgate and hang out with my daughter and her friends and do that stuff. I wanted to commit to something that wouldn’t interfere with all of that.”

Quitting the sport cold turkey was not an option, and MRN and SiriusXM have given Gordon the best of both worlds – the sought-after better balance of work and home life. He says his physical well-being is much better.

Instead of being up every morning to go thrash at the race shop, Gordon gets to work out with his wife, Amy. In the past, Gordon often described Amy as a single mother to their two children. On the weekends, Gordon can now entertain or participate in activities with friends.

“My life has gotten better in that respect,” he says.

On his SiriusXM gig, Gordon jokes, “I had to hem and haw about that one. I’m a 5:30 in-the-morning guy, not a 10:00 at-night guy. It’s worked out well. I’ve really enjoyed working with Brad Gillie; he does a great job. It opened me up to the transition of being a personality and not a (race team) employee. That’s something that (in 2022) was a big transition for me.”

Breaking out of the Penske bubble means Gordon can look at the sport from a wider lens and offer opinions. However, he admits it’d been challenging to become unattached from a group of people he considered family.

Working in the media isn’t new for Gordon. He was once asked by Larry McReynolds, back around the time he won the championship in 2018 with Joey Logano, if he saw himself as a crew chief in 10 years. Gordon told McReynolds no.

“I said, ‘I see myself working in media,’” Gordon says. “One of the things I felt I made an effort at since 2016 is the radio side of things (doing weekly live hits on SiriusXM) and trying to be more engaged with the fan base and trying to help the fan base. Our sport isn’t anything if we don’t have a fan base, and I always felt we owed it to our fan base to try to educate and try to let them see more of what our sport because there is so much behind the scenes the average fan will never see or understand how we race.”

Gordon always tried to do that when he was a crew chief and radio broadcaster visited his team: to use his years in the garage and understanding of race strategy or pit cycles to bring a new level of insight to fans.

“Those are the things I’ve tried to bring forward,” says Gordon, “and explain some of the things that when there is trouble on pit road, maybe it’s not a pit crew issue but a car setup issue, or where the driver positioned themselves in the pit box. So that people get a deeper view of what our sport is all about, and I hope that makes the broadcast more entertaining and enjoyable.”

MRN used Gordon in seven races last season, but he believes his role will expand this year. On the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio side, he went from spending time around other teams as a competitor and friend, to a media personality having to interview them. It has completely shifted the dynamic of his interactions with industry folks.

“That was a pretty big change for me,” Gordon says. “I still remember the first interview I had on the Late Shift; it was Mike Joy. It was awkward for me, especially in that situation, because my life would have been Mike Joy asking me questions that I can answer. Now we’ve flipped roles. It was weird for me. It was strange and awkward, and I didn’t think I did a good job with it. Fortunately, Mike is a professional and carried the load.

“It’s been a transition but one that I think I can ask good questions. If you’re talking to a crew chief, you want to ask questions where they educate the fan base, but you don’t want to ask them questions that ask them to divulge proprietary information. So, you have to find that balance, and I feel like done a decent job at that and will only get better as I go. But my understanding of what’s going on in their lives allows me to put good questions together and pull good content out of them.”

A year into this new chapter, Gordon reiterates that having more time at home is the most enjoyable thing.

“I still get to be involved (in the sport), and I can control where I am with what goes on,” he says. “It’s good. My Mondays are pretty loaded up. My Wednesdays, I have a half-day commitment. But I would expect that I’ll be at the racetrack more regularly next year.”

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