Martinsville: Ricky Rudd preview

Ricky Rudd: "Last year when Fatback came in, our qualifying stepped up quite a bit. We just can't be obsessed with it." Ricky Rudd and his ...

Ricky Rudd: "Last year when Fatback came in, our qualifying stepped up quite a bit. We just can't be obsessed with it."

Ricky Rudd and his #21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Ford team tested at Martinsville at week ago. What they learned at the test about the cars they took will be very important this weekend as the team will be faced with having to get into the race on its qualifying effort. A late-race crash at Bristol kept the team out of the top 35 in points and a guaranteed starting spot in this week's NEXTEL Cup event. Ricky talks about the test and qualifying.

RICKY RUDD -- #21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Ford

HOW DID THE TEST AT MARTINSVILLE GO? "I think between the two cars we ran between 560 and 580 laps. We were there two days. We actually could probably have used the third day, just working on qualifying stuff.

"We spent most of the time with one race car. It was interesting. We did a lot of long-lap runs. I think because of that it educated us on what we needed to do with our cars. I think both cars were pretty good. There were some things we found out that we'll go back and analyze.

"We didn't have a lot to compare to. There weren't a lot of Cup cars there, probably seven or eight, but they weren't doing long runs, so we didn't really have anything to compare our runs to. The team did a lot of work and tried a lot of things."

WILL GOING BACK TO A "NORMAL" CUP SCHEDULE AT MARTINSVILLE HELP? "I like it that it is not an impound race because we are going to have to qualify our way into the show. Because of that I like that format better. That way we can put it in qualifying mode, give it our best shot and then put it back in race trim. In that situation with the impound races, you have to prepare it to qualify and just hope you can get the car adjusted for the race."

IS THERE MORE PRESSURE? "Yeah. You try to block it out. But, every time you go to qualify you give it 100 percent effort.

"We've had good cars. We have concentrated on race mode, and we would have had better results if we could have just finished the races. That plan should have worked for us.

"Last year when Fatback came in, our qualifying stepped up quite a bit. We just can't be obsessed with it."

IS YOUR CAR FOR MARTINSVILLE COMPARABLE TO THE CAR YOU HAD AT ATLANTA? "I don't know how to answer that. I didn't realize we were going to be that good at Atlanta. I knew we were okay, but I didn't know we were going to be that good. We were definitely top-five, top-three material. The way we drove in practice, with the speeds, I thought we had a top-10 car. Sometimes you get fooled with that. You can research that by comparing your long runs with everybody during practice. So I knew we were going to be good, just not that good.

"I don't know what to say about Martinsville because we really didn't have anybody to compare to. We didn't turn the fastest lap at Martinsville, but we weren't in that mode to go flat out. Some of the guys worked on that, but we never did. But, nobody did the 40- or 50-lap runs we did."

-wb/ford-

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup