RICKY RUDD on testing and racing at Charlotte: "...The setup we had on our car ... was just real solid, and it was the previous race, and that's one of the reasons why I'm looking forward to going back." Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 ...
RICKY RUDD on testing and racing at Charlotte: "...The setup we had on our car ... was just real solid, and it was the previous race, and that's one of the reasons why I'm looking forward to going back."
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus, heads into Saturday night's race at Charlotte in 22nd place in the points standings, up one spot following a ninth-place finish at Kansas last Sunday. A couple of weeks ago Rudd tested at the 1.5-mile track, and this week he answers questions from his fans regarding that test, Lowe's Motor Speedway and racing different car makes.
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus - How did the test go at Charlotte? Why did you like the track surface and others didn't? "I think it goes back to the setup. We had a really good car at Charlotte for the previous race, the 600, and ended up breaking a motor. We were running fourth and we broke a motor, but the car was running extremely well there. It drove really well. When other guys were having problems and wrecking and all kind of issues there, we didn't have any issues last time. So, I think it really gets back to the setup that Fatback [McSwain, crew chief] puts under the car that really likes Charlotte and likes the newly ground surface, evidently, because the guys that were having trouble are guys that when they say they've got problems, you need to listen - people like Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, guys like that. It's not like they're rookies or something. And I'm sure that their cars were pretty ill there, but I think it gets back to the setup we had on our car. It was just real solid, and it was the previous race, and that's one of the reasons why I'm looking forward to going back."
What kind of setup would you have to start the race at Lowe`s Motor Speedway -- would it be more to the loose side or tight side, and why? "You really look for the setup that makes the most grip. You want to have the car balanced. To me, if you're doing most of your practice in the heat of the day and your car is loose, you don't get real excited about that. But, with this new ground surface, what I've found with the last race at the 600, in the heat of the day to the coolness at night, the balance really doesn't change like it used to. You used to want a car that was pretty loose in the heat of the day so it would be just right at night. With this ground surface, that doesn't seem to be an issue. If you're loose in the daytime, you're going to be loose at night. If you're tight in the day, you're going to be tight at night. The ground surface has changed things a little bit. It's made the grip better than it used to be, and I think a lot of the guys here are forgetting how bad that race track used to be before they did grind on it."
Can you tell me what makes Ford a better choice for you and your team? "The drivers, first of all, don't have the controls over what brand of car you run. I've always gone to the team that I felt was the best team for me, and would prefer that it would be Fords, but you wouldn't turn down a competitor team that was a better team just because they ran a brand of car that you didn't prefer. I mean, I've been on the GM side, I've been on the Ford side, I ran Buicks years ago, but most of my races have been in a Ford, but that's more of a team issue. The teams choose a manufacturer and they tend to stay with them for many years. There's really dollars-and-cents issues there. The motor stuff is geared up towards Ford, but also you build up an alliance with the people you work for, the technical people. You don't see the teams moving as much as you would see drivers go to another team with a different brand of car."
What do you think about foreign car makes racing in NASCAR? "I really haven't thought too hard about it. I guess those issues have been dealt with over on the Truck side, and I guess, eventually, the Busch side. It's coming to Cup, I feel like. Nothing's like it used to be. What I learned is you've got to be open for change. Whether you like it or dislike it, it's coming. I can see benefits from it. I can see negatives to it. I can see both sides."
Now that it is in the second year, what is your opinion on the new format for the Chase and are there any things you would change about it? "I try not to get caught up in that too much. The rules are what they are. This is what we've got, and this is what we're dealing with, and, so be it, you do your best. We didn't make the cut, but it's not anyone's fault. We had good enough cars this year, I thought, to make the cut, we just got into too many wrecks - nine wrecks before the cutoff point. We didn't start any of them, but you can't be in nine wrecks and be in the Chase. I think if you go back I would've been in it something like 19 years, I think, I was top-10 in the points. The format's different. It's just what it is. You do your best to make the cut. If you don't, it's not the end of the world. You got to regroup."