Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus, and Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus, held brief Q&A sessions during the lunch break of Tuesday's preseason testing at Daytona International Speedway. RICKY RUDD ...
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus, and Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus, held brief Q&A sessions during the lunch break of Tuesday's preseason testing at Daytona International Speedway.
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus
"This is the biggest race and it comes at the front of the season. I've been saying that for years, but that's why these test sessions are probably more important than maybe we realize because this is the only real experience we have preceding the Daytona 500. It's a big race. It's still the biggest. The Brickyard has kind of caught up and then it's lost some ground, but the Daytona 500 is still the big one."
WHEN DO YOU EXPECT THE MOVE TO CHARLOTTE TO PAYOFF FOR THIS TEAM? "That's kind of a tough question to answer because with a move comes a lot of changes and you wonder how much time have you lost working and preparing race cars when you decide to make a move like that. It's a pretty major move and, I think as it turns out and the way we've tested so far, these guys haven't missed a beat. They've gotten really good over the winter and I understand the way the move took place there wasn't really a lost day of working on cars. Even though the move took place, it was done really organized. We'll see. Time will tell, but right now going into Daytona, and I'm just basing it on how the car drives, how it feels, how fast it's already run on the race track, I'm pretty excited about it."
GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS COMING BACK TO DAYTONA? THE LAST TIME YOU WERE HERE YOU MADE IT TO VICTORY LANE. "Yeah, it was kind of neat when I was walking in this morning because I thought about the fact that the last time I was here we won. That's pretty exciting. I don't know if we're gonna be back in that position or not. I know the guys worked really, really hard all winter long to speed our program up. We haven't found any speed yet, but it's typical Daytona - it's tough to see that. Typically with our program, we're a little bit better in race trim than we are in qualifying, so we're working on it. We're gonna take the best car that we can this afternoon and work on it for the next couple of days to see how good we can get it."
DO YOU THINK THE NEW CYLINDER HEAD AND THE ARRANGEMENT WITH RYR WILL GIVE YOU A BOOST? "Yeah, it's going to. I was talking to Jack about it earlier and he doesn't suspect to see that new cylinder head until maybe Indy or the second Michigan race. I thought it was gonna be a lot sooner than that. I figured it would be Vegas or something around that, so I was a little disappointed to find out that cylinder head won't be here as quick as we thought it was gonna be. But I'm sure the sharing program with Yates is gonna help us some. It's gonna help them and us together collectively, so we're excited about that. We've got our standard stuff here - Roush motors that we test with and we're hearing rumors that the Yates restrictor combination engine is a little bit better than what we have here, but we don't know how much yet."
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE POINTS CHANGE? "I don't know all the pros and cons to it yet, so it's hard to comment on it. The one thing I do know is that the playoff includes a certain number of teams. You can see from the football playoffs I've been watching on TV with the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay and everybody else, not every team is playing anymore. There are only selected teams that are down to the end of it, so when they ask all 43 teams to still participate in a playoff - which those teams aren't actually participating in the playoff - I don't know how that's gonna work. I guess each guy will be shuffling for each position, so we'll see how it works. One of the other good ideas was maybe having more points at the last 10 races and last five races. Maybe double the points system or something like that to reward somebody for coming on late in the season.
"But it seems like it takes the character away from our sport, the consistency. A team the runs the whole season and gels and then have to start over at 10 races to go, I don't know if that's the right thing. But maybe to lock in the top 10 at some point, that may be possible."
DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE A CHANGE IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS FOR DRIVER AND CREW CHIEF? "It's gonna change our sport more than anybody ever thought it was going to because, number one, sponsor packages are gonna change and driver contracts are gonna change. Everything is gonna change because no longer will I have a 36-race contract, I'm gonna have a 26-race contract and then a bonus 10-race contract. It may be as extreme as seeing people out of a job with 10 races to go depending on whether or not your team makes the playoff. What's the sense in being in the playoff if you're not in the playoff? Those are some of the things that may be decided, so we're gonna need to know (what the system is) as soon as we can. I guess we're locked in for this year, but it certainly can impact how a team is gonna test and what their game plan might be. It might not be as conservative as far as points racing at the end of the season like we have for the past 40 years or however many years we've done that."
HOW DO YOU SEE THE SPONSORS FITTING INTO IT? "I don't know a whole lot about that side of it. Thank goodness. I don't get into all of that, but I see it having a big impact on it. I see it having a big impact on our sport. It's gonna definitely change it around."