Havoline Team turning corner to championship run.
JUSTIN, Texas - Robert Yates' No. 28 Havoline team enters Sunday's Samsung/Radio Shack 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway 14th in the series point standings. Despite some disappointing results earlier this season, the team is poised to make a move forward following its best run of the year - a third at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"We are no where near where we want or expect to be at this point in the season," said crew chief Michael "Fatback" McSwain. "What's interesting to me is that we're actually in a better spot this year than we were around this time last year."
After the Texas event in 2001, the Havoline team was 261 points behind then leader Dale Jarrett in the standings. This year, they are 249 markers behind leader Sterling Marlin. McSwain is confident the team can once again be a championship contender.
"Last year, we had our cars perfectly balanced aerodynamically with the rules as they were," McSwain said. "There were some rule changes late in the season and we lost that combination. Then during the off-season, there were some more changes and we needed to make further adjustments.
"We completed a two-day test at Texas last week and I think we've got a better handle on the aerodynamic changes. We tested the car we struggled with a few weeks back in Atlanta and a brand new car. The new car was substantially better right off the truck. We feel like we understand the new rules much better than we did even a few weeks back."
The positive test results and the momentum from Bristol are just in time for the team to duplicate the efforts of last season. In the 13 races between Texas and Indianapolis, the Havoline team closed to within 45 points of the point leader earning one win, 10 top-10 finishes and finishing all 13 events in the top 14.
In the five Winston Cup Series races that have taken place at Texas Motor Speedway, Rudd has two top-10 finishes.