A six-time off-road champion, Cerritos, Calif. native Robby Gordon moved to sports cars in 1990, winning five GTO races in 1991 and a Trans-Am race in 1992. He got his first taste of Indy cars in 1993, driving for A.J. Foyt. Gordon then went on to win four CART poles and races at Detroit and Phoenix in 1995. He also had success in the International Race of Champions, finishing second in the series in 1996 and 1997.
Gordon's first taste of Winston Cup came in 1991, when he drove for Junie Donlavey in the Daytona 500. He then drove the No. 28 Ford for Robert Yates Racing at Talladega Superspeedway in that team's first race following Davey Allison's death in 1993. He made single starts for Kranefuss-Haas and Dale Earnhardt Inc. before signing on with Felix Sabates in 1996, running 22 races with that team over the next two years.