Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus, has been racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway for nearly 30 years. The veteran Ford driver gave his impressions of the racing surface as well as his car for tomorrow night's race...
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus, has been racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway for nearly 30 years. The veteran Ford driver gave his impressions of the racing surface as well as his car for tomorrow night's race between practice sessions.
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT TOMORROW NIGHT? "We were actually pretty good. We were like top 10 and then a bunch of guys started scuffing tires a while ago and we didn't scuff any. We stayed on one set, so a lot of guys got quicker. We ended up like 22nd on the speed chart, but I'm real happy with the way it's driving. It's driving real good and it's racy. We practiced the worst-case scenario on one set of tires that whole practice and I like what I feel. Time is gonna tell, but I think it's going to run good."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE TRACK ITSELF? "Just in practice a while ago turns one and two were a little bit greasy and three and four were very, very good. Of course, all of the action was happening down in one and two with the Busch guys. I think it will settle down. I think when the sun goes down the track gets grip. About 80 to 90 percent of our running has been done at night time. I like what I feel in my car. I don't know if other guys are settled down a little bit or not, but, to me, the track is pretty grippy. I'm waiting to see how the racing is gonna work out because when we were here last time turns one and two only half of the track was ground. The bottom groove, which has always been the preferred line at Charlotte, was not ground so the preferred groove was the lane up off the bottom. That hasn't been the case this week because in the new grinding process they ground the bottom groove. I don't know how that's gonna play out. I'm waiting to see how that's gonna work in traffic. It should make two good lanes of racing, whereas before it made it very interesting and we had a lot of wrecks here. It was probably because guys got down there trying to attempt a pass, it was greasier and even though they were faster than the guy they were trying to pass, they got underneath him and couldn't make the move happen and then that sucked the air off the spoiler and they probably wrecked. That shouldn't be the issue now because you've got two lanes with grip in them."
IS THERE A DANGER OF SINGLE-FILE RACING? "That is the other side of it because everybody is back on the bottom of the race track again because that is the preferred groove. We'll see if the second groove comes in or not. It should come in. We raced on it last time, but they've ground on it again. I'm kind of anxious to wait and see how the Busch race works out."
ARE GUYS SCUFFING TIRES BECAUSE OF THE TRACK SURFACE OR IS IT SOMETHING THAT'S ALWAYS BEEN DONE? "There are really a couple of theories on that, and everyone has their opinion of it, but when you go to a track where a sticker tire has little difference in performance to a scuffed tire, by being able to go out - especially the championship guys - they can go out and go through all their tires. They can go through however many sets they've got. In case they end up with one set of tires that a driver doesn't like - maybe they're real loose or real tight - he can identify them, label them, and either hold them back if the track goes real tight and call for those tires later, or simply say, 'I don't like these at all. I'm gonna wreck on them. Get rid of them.' So that's the advantage of being able to sort through some tires that way because there is no performance advantages. And then some guys are scuffing because maybe they think they're seeing a lot of heat. We haven't seen a tremendous amount of heat, but I think they're just starting to maybe think about getting into the bottom of the yellow zone, and maybe guys are thinking it might get worse so by scuffing them will keep some of the heat out of them."
THERE WERE 22 CAUTIONS HERE LAST TIME. IS IT STILL TO EARLY TO TELL IF THAT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN? "I was just shocked last time when we were here that we had as many cautions as we did. I didn't quite understand a lot of that. I don't know why there were so many cautions. You've got guys that came here and tested. They're telling you what they were feeling and they were really wicked loose. That was Mark, Tony and those guys, but I haven't really heard them say anything since they've been back here. If those guys are hollering loose, then it seems like there ought to be something wrong even though we didn't really experience it with our car, so I don't know. I was shocked the last time because the track had so much grip and it was so fast that we had as many wrecks as we did."