Martinsville Ricky Rudd Gets Boost

Rudd gets a big boost from starting spot By Shawn A. Akers MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 25, 1998) Don't blame Ricky Rudd for being just a little bit giddy Friday afternoon. His second-place effort in Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's NAPA ...

Rudd gets a big boost from starting spot By Shawn A. Akers

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 25, 1998) Don't blame Ricky Rudd for being just a little bit giddy Friday afternoon. His second-place effort in Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway was his best start in 1998, a season in which Rudd would just as soon otherwise forget.

Rudd turned a fast lap of 93.576 mph, just .032-second slower than Bud Pole winner Ernie Irvan. Rudd's previous best qualifying effort was third place twice, most recently for the Goody's 500 at Bristol last month.

"We're real happy with the run," Rudd said. "The guys have been working hard, the guys in the motor shop have been working hard to try and get the horsepower up. I can't say we've struggled here. The last couple of times up here we've been in the top-five or top-eight, but getting the motor to run here at Martinsville is probably the toughest job anywhere on the circuit other than restricted motors, but the chassis worked really good.

"That's something we've been working on all year long. A half year ago, Bill Ingle came back on board and we're trying to get both the intermediate-track and short-track programs up to par. We're making little changes each week and we really don't know what we have until we get here, unload it, and see how it runs because we're kind of doing our testing at the race track since we're limited to seven test dates."

All Rudd really wanted was a frontstretch pit stall for Sunday's race. Little did he know that he'd be starting on the front row.

"That's one big accomplishment," said Rudd, currently 22nd in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. "You need track position at Martinsville, not only a frontstretch pit, but you need to be able to stay out ahead of the traffic all day. Don't get in those dog fights. If you catch yourself pitting on the back, then you lose race position and then when they restart, you're racing for your life in the back to try and keep the leader from lapping you."

Rudd's best finish this season was sixth in the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover in May. He has but three top-10 finishes this season.

Rudd has seven races remaining in the 1998 season to continue his famous streak.

"I am (thinking about it), but I'm thinking of it for other reasons, too," Rudd said. "Financially with the car, and it means a lot of money to stay on the Winner's Circle program. Really, all the guys work hard. There's no better motivational tool that you can create in a shop environment. A win does that better than anything, but also that streak. The fans write in this time of year and remind me that it's time to win. 'It's getting late in the season. You better get it done. Don't break your streak.' So, this is the time of year I really start to hear about it."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ernie Irvan