FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DAYTONA 500 February 8, 1999 Daytona International Speedway RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- YOU'RE AN OWNER-DRIVER STILL, WHY DO YOU THINK YOUR OPERATION IS STILL GOING WELL AND OTHERS LIKE DARRELL ...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES DAYTONA 500 February 8, 1999 Daytona International Speedway
RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- YOU'RE AN OWNER-DRIVER STILL, WHY DO YOU THINK YOUR OPERATION IS STILL GOING WELL AND OTHERS LIKE DARRELL WALTRIP HAVE SOLD? "Well, I think Darrell got started a little earlier. I guess his patience level ran out a little earlier than mine did, but that's the key is making sure that you don't get discouraged. Last year we weren't having a great year, but all of a sudden late in the season the guys got the car handling good, we went to Martinsville and won the race there. So it can come together even though you're a single car operation. You just have to work a little harder."
YOU, ALONG WITH SOME OTHER VETERAN DRIVERS, HAVE NOT WON THIS RACE YET. CAN YOU WIN THE DAYTONA 500 THIS YEAR? "I think I can win the race. I finished third is my best finish, but the crew really has to have their act together to prepare a car and win the 500. You've got four races a year that you can work on and the rules apply to those four races. We work hard for this race, but we also have to realize that the other 29-30 races are just as important as the Daytona 500 so if we do work on the cars there, plus say a Charlotte, it will pretty much apply to every race track, where with the Daytona rules being what they are, you can work and be awfully good here and be bad at 29 other race tracks. We work hard, but, again, we have to remember the whole season."
WHAT KIND OF A CAR DO YOU HAVE FOR THE WEEKEND? "Well, I'm not really sure. It didn't run as well as we'd like to in qualifying. In qualifying we qualified I think right at 192, which put us about 32nd or so in the field. I'm not too concerned about qualifying. The qualifying races gives you your starting position if you don't win the front row, so we'll see how the car drafts. I think it all depends on how these next couple of practice sessions go before I try to make any predictions on how it's gonna go for Sunday."
LAST YEAR THE 125 WAS A NIGHTMARE FOR YOU. I'M SURE YOU'D LIKE TO CHANGE THAT THIS SEASON. "We sat there and worked on trying to get our speed up. We elected to requalify for the next two days and everytime you do that you start farther back in the 125. We got wrecked on lap two or three of the 125 and I had to use a provisional start, so we'd love to be able to get off to a better start than that. We've elected, because we feel there's a little bit more speed in the car, that's one more reason why we've elected not to requalify. I think we've got about a 15th-place starting position for the 125, instead of going back to 30th. We'll stay 15th and, hopefully, miss some of the early wrecks."
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THIS FIRST RACE OF THE YEAR? "It doesn't feel like to me that the last race of the year really ever ended. To me, this is just an extension of last year because we have been busy. The team's been busy building cars and getting ready for this 500. But it is a new season, new look for everybody, new colors, new car schemes to get used to, but, again, our guys never really quit working, so we feel like there's not a big letdown of momentum and now we've gotta start back up."
WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE SEASON? "We feel like we're a better team than we were last year. We started getting better as the year progressed last year. The question is, how much better did the competition get over the winter? We don't know that."
WHAT WOULD WINNING THE RACE MEAN TO YOU? "It would mean a lot. We've won one of the big ones, we won the Brickyard in '97 and, there's no doubt about it, the two biggest races I think in the year are the Brickyard and the Daytona 500, so that's something every stock car driver dreams of is winning the Daytona 500. We definitely put it right up there at the top of the list."
WHERE'S THE MOST DIFFICULT PLACE TO RUN ON THIS TRACK? "This biggest problem you have here is that you'll have just about the entire 40-car field running in a single draft. It doesn't take but one person to make one mistake, so probably the biggest thing you're having to deal with is that you'll have 43 who'll start the race, but there aren't necessarily 43 really super-talented drivers. There might be 42 talented drivers and one makes a mistake. That's the uncontrollable part is the frustration factor that can tend to set in at Daytona."