Long Pond: Ricky Rudd preview

Pocono holds special memories for Rudd, no. 28 Havoline team. LONG POND, Pa. - It was one year ago when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series pulled into Pocono Raceway and the championship combination of driver Ricky Rudd and the No. 28 Havoline Ford...

Pocono holds special memories for Rudd, no. 28 Havoline team.

LONG POND, Pa. - It was one year ago when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series pulled into Pocono Raceway and the championship combination of driver Ricky Rudd and the No. 28 Havoline Ford Taurus were still looking for that magical touch. After all, it had been three seasons since Rudd had seen victory and four for the No. 28 Havoline car.

Thanks to a dominating performance, Rudd and the Robert Yates Racing Havoline car returned to the glory of yesteryear. That performance, in addition to a top finish here in the fall event of 2001, have the team excited and looking forward to the trip up north.

"That was about the perfect weekend," said Rudd. "We were fastest in practice, we won the pole, then went on and won the race. I've always enjoyed racing at Pocono and was really surprised that I had not won here sooner. I think anytime you have success at a track, you look forward to returning."

The mix of a veteran team and veteran driver took some time to become cohesive. The Pocono race of a year ago finally put the team and the driver back to the stages they always expected.

Now, the Havoline team has gelled together and is looking to make the triangle-shaped track a place of domination. Throughout his 45 career races at the track, nearly half of them (20) have ended in top-10 finishes.

"Pocono is one of the most challenging tracks we run because there are so many variables that all have to be working together," Rudd said. "Horsepower is so important because of the long straightaways, but you have to handle well, especially in the tunnel turn (turn two) and off the final corner (turn three). If you don't handle well, then you can't get or stay in the gas longer and can't use the horsepower.

Despite some misfortune in 2002, Rudd remains in the top 10 in the point standings and is destined to find Victory Lane again. With his past experience at the track, and Yates Racing's three career wins at the track, all signs could line up for the coming weekend.

"It's pretty interesting to compare last year and this year. Both are very similar. We started slow both seasons, but at this point last season we started really making our run. Last year, we got into July and August and then all of a sudden it was like 'where did these guys come from.' Then we go out and dominate at Pocono and our season just turned around. Despite for our misfortune of missing out on some wins lately and our recent fourth-place finish at Charlotte, I think the Havoline team is performing as well as anybody over the past couple of months."

-ryr/pprp

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing