Martinsville II: Ricky Rudd qualifying interview

RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus (Qualified 2nd) THAT WAS PRETTY FAST. "We're real pleased with that. I wish it would have been a little bit better than what Tony ran, but it didn't work out that way. These guys have ...

RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus (Qualified 2nd)

THAT WAS PRETTY FAST.

"We're real pleased with that. I wish it would have been a little bit better than what Tony ran, but it didn't work out that way. These guys have nothing to hang their heads about. The car ran extremely well. It was good in practice. It's been good all day. It's almost been sort of an uneventful day. We didn't have to change a whole lot of stuff. The car was ready off the truck."

HAVE YOU DECIDED ON YOUR PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR?

"Let's talk about Martinsville. I know what's happening at Martinsville (laughing). No disrespect to everybody, it's just not time to announce anything yet."

WHERE DID THAT LAP COME FROM?

"I'll be honest, it really started in the spring race earlier in the year. It was a new car built for this race track and we ended up seventh or eighth - something like that. It was a good, solid run and it really starts there because I don't think that car has been run since then. It wasn't destroyed. We came up here the other day. Goodyear needed somebody to run a tire test for them and they usually go to cars that run pretty solid here, so they chose us and we ran 700 laps of practice in two days, which is pretty brutal. I guess the only thing I can say we learned out of that is that our car is gonna be good on long race runs because when you do that they don't let you adjust your car. You sort of leave your car set and throw the tires at it, but our car was extremely good in long runs and didn't have a clue how fast it could run. I'm more excited about race runs than I am anything based on the tire test, but you say where does it come from, it comes from bringing a car back that we ran here earlier. They learned something during the season - the guys do - and you always get a little bit better hopefully and they're able to put some of the stuff they've been learning recently into this car and it's good."

HOW MUCH DO YOU AND FATBACK BRING TO THAT?

"This has actually been a pretty good race track for me and it's always been a good race track for Fatback. I think you couple that together with the unbelievable Yates horsepower that we've had all year long and it clicks. It really depends on the chemistry of who you've got working. By the same token, when the Wood Brothers were off at Martinsville they were kicking everybody's butt at Michigan and Charlotte and placed like that back in the old days. They didn't run a full schedule. I don't think they ever ran a full schedule years ago back when Pearson was driving, so they probably didn't even have a real good built short track car back then."

THEY STRUGGLED WITH SADLER.

"Yeah, I don't have an answer for that. This has been a good track for me. Fatback is just a good nuts and bolts type of guy. This is kind of like going back a few years in racing. This is more about chassis and aerodynamics aren't that critical here. He's really good at getting these cars to go around these slow flat race tracks."

WHAT IF THERE ARE A RASH OF CAUTIONS SUNDAY? HOW DO YOU COMBAT THAT?

"Probably nothing really. It's kind of weird because it seems you always have to weigh that decision out in practice. Do you want to be good in the long run, or do you want to be good in the short run. There are a lot of things the crew chiefs can do on these cars to compliment that. This race, I've never seen it hardly fail where you get a lot of cautions early and all of a sudden you get to about lap 300 or lap 350 and the thing goes green for usually a good bit of the time. The whole first part of the race is almost a throwaway - just save your equipment until it comes to lap 300 and then let it go. Hopefully you've got brakes and fenders on it at that time when it does come time to go. But I'm not smart enough to know how to adjust the car to be good on a short run or a long run, but these crew chiefs today are pretty good and they know how to do that. But our car seems to be good on a short run, long run. It stays on its tires a very, very long time and that's the key when you get to the end of the race. Instead of going 30 laps and have a caution; 40 laps and have a caution; it generally goes a pretty good ways. That long green flag run is really what puts guys laps down or makes guys look good or not. It's those long runs at the end."

DOES YOUR FAN BASE WEIGH IN YOUR DECISION AND WHAT THEY MIGHT THINK?

"Let me say this, I've got a really good group of fans that have followed me through thick and thin over the years - second and third generation fans. We're very aware of the support we have from them and the last thing we want to do is make it appear like we're snubbing them or dusting them off. It's not intended that way. When everything comes out and all the hands get played, I think everyone will see there were reasons why things needed to kept under wraps. The time has not come to divulge that. I wish I could. I wish I could tell everybody what's going on, but it's not time to do that. I just hope the fans that have been with me through thick and thin will understand that when the day comes. There will be ones that maybe we'll alienate because they didn't get the scoop early when it wasn't time to give them the scoop."

WOULD YOU RACE BUSCH OR TRUCK NEXT YEAR IF YOU RETIRE?

"No."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS RACE ON SUNDAY AND WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU TO STILL GO OUT AND WIN EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE NOT IN THE CHASE?

"To sit here and tell you that I'm glad I'm not in the chase wouldn't be a true statement. All of us started the season with that hope in mind, ours just didn't work out. But by the same token NASCAR has created this cut list of 10 to create some excitement. I think they've succeeded in doing that, but I guess I'm old school. I come to race. I've always been if you race and you race well, your points will take care of themselves. That's not quite exactly true the way it works now with the new system, but, really, I don't know of any fan that has ever come to the race track with five races to go and they're sitting up there in the stands counting points. The media and mainly TV is doing that for you, but I think these guys come to see a race. They want to see side-by-side racing, bumping, shoving. Excitement is what they're here for. They're not here to count points. That being said, if we can go out and win a race or run really well at Martinsville, it's been a successful year for us even though we didn't make the top 10."

-ford racing-

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup