Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus, gave his impressions of what to expect in the the Gatorade Duel 150 races on Thursday. RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus HOW DO YOU SEE THESE GATORADE DUELS...
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus, gave his impressions of what to expect in the the Gatorade Duel 150 races on Thursday.
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus
HOW DO YOU SEE THESE GATORADE DUELS PLAYING OUT TOMORROW? "I've seen a lot of guys going awful hard in practice and it doesn't pay anything for that and it doesn't really mean anything, but I've seen some hard racing in practice. I don't expect anything less because it's a 150 and everybody is locked in. If you've got a guy coming down to the line and he's gonna try some crazy maneuver like make it four-wide to pull off a win or to get a good spot, I don't think you'll see that with the exception of the guys that are desperate and have to have it. As far as making that move and saying, 'Man, it's less than 50-50. If I make it, I win the race. If I don't, I have to roll the backup out.' I don't think you'll see those aggressive moves happen. Now the guys that are not in the field, you'll see anything and everything from them, if they've got to make an aggressive move to make the cut."
WILL THIS BE INTENSE FROM THE START OR MAYBE JUST THE LAST COUPLE OF LAPS? "I've seen it go both ways. I've seen the lead pack get in single-file and try to breakaway, but from what I saw here the other night it's gonna be hard to breakaway. I'm not gonna rule it out, but the other night nobody was able to really drive away and leave each other. Late in the first segment we saw a group of guys line up and start getting away because everybody behind them was racing, but once they all got in line that gap quickly got closed back up. So I don't know. It should be interesting to find out. It could go either way, but I would suspect that you'll see the guys who are locked in are gonna be the guys in the top five, six or seven spots. And I'd be willing to bet that everyone is gonna try to get in line and get away from that madness that's gonna be taking place behind them. I see that scenario unfolding with those guys up front then racing each other near the end, but you don't want to get caught in that middle to end pack."
IS THE PRIMARY THOUGHT FOR A DRIVER TOMORROW TO BRING YOUR CAR BACK IN ONE PIECE? "It depends on your back-up situation. If your back-up is not very good, then that mindset sort of takes precedent. If you've got a good back-up on the truck, you sort of block that issue out. Sometimes you have a back-up that's been here before and you say, 'I wish I could have my back-up here,' so all of a sudden you end up being more aggressive and if it gets bent up or beat up or wrecked, it's not the end of the world because now you've got a car that you think is gonna be better for the 500 sitting on the truck. Every team is sort of different. I don't know how many of them have great back-ups. I would say that the top 20 guys have all probably got a back-up just as good as their 500 car."
THIS HAS BEEN A FAN'S RACE. WILL IT LOSE SOME THUNDER WITH THE TOP 35 BEING LOCKED IN? "I don't know. There seems to be a lot of desperation with a lot of guys here when you come to these races, but you generally know going in that if you've got a pretty fast qualifying speed, you know if you're secure or not. You know where you are in the points, but now you've got the top 35 locked in. Before, if you used to be in the top 25 in points, you could pretty much figure that you were locked into this race. So what they've done is they've gone back 10 more spots. I think you're gonna have two different mindsets. You're gonna have the guys that are definitely desperate and you can expect anything and everything from these guys because everything is on the line. The guys that qualified well, have good running cars and are high up in the points, you're possibly gonna see those guys run a different race. They might be a little more conservative, but no more so than they normally are. If you watch the 125s in the past, they sort of got to be single-file racing and the group would sort of stretch out and get away from the rest of the pack.
"I don't see that changing any. I think that's gonna be the though process of the guys that are starting in the first eight spots. It will be no different than it has been in year's past. You have to remember that those guys in the top eight, they've got a pretty secure speed to be starting in the top eight of the field, so they're pretty much guaranteed a locked in spot anyway. Now that number could be six or it could be 12, but I see them probably getting nose-to-tail. I see it getting a little busy the first couple of laps, but then get nose-to-tail and try to get away from that madness that's gonna be taking place in the middle of the pack."
IS THERE MORE AGGRESSIVENESS ON THE TRACK SO FAR IN PRACTICE AND THE SHOOTOUT THIS YEAR? "There are 57 cars here and you've got some guys, for whatever circumstances, that are good drivers with good teams but don't have a guarantee. Robby Gordon is a good example. He's got to get in on his driving in the 150. That's just one that comes to mind. I'm sure there are other guys in the same position. Normally you have 57-60 cars for the 500, but you seem to have a big mixture of really good cars and some cars that are sort of here just to try to make the race. But a lot of them are really good teams that just happen to be out of the top 35. Either they're new teams or didn't get enough points late in the season last year, so it's gonna be an interesting deal. I'm kind of anxious to see how it plays out."