Ricky Rudd's strategy for the 2004 Nextel Cup series 'chase for the championship' is simple: he's now looking at it as a 26-race season. As a veteran of the sport, holding a record of 716 consecutive starts, Rudd is the perfect competitor to comment on how the changes in NASCAR's point system will affect driver strategy.
Rudd: I look at it like Richmond is the end of the season. That is the last race of the season. I think you have to approach it that way; you have to approach it like it is a 26-race series. You have to get in the top ten to really be in the big hunt for the championship. I see two separate races. The beginning is just a 26-race schedule
M.com: Does the season lose anything after Richmond?
Rudd: I need to get versed a little bit about the transfer spot. At one time I thought it was a clear cut 10th spot, but now its 10th or 400 points - you know I can see some discouraging things coming out of it. Say you are in the top ten all year, and you have a bad race at Richmond and its close, and you end up falling back to 11th, or 12th or 13th - just outside of that top group, and all of sudden you had one bad race and your out. But on the same side I can see being on the other side of the fence. You can be 12th and move into the top ten.
M.com: There has been a lot of conversation about moving the Daytona 500 to the end of the season to serve more as NASCAR's "Super Bowl", what is your take on that?
Rudd: Well if the press mentions it enough, I am sure NASCAR will do it. It makes sense, it does make sense, we have to wait to and see. I have learned in this business to expect the unexpected. Was it talked about? I don't know. I am sure it gets kicked around every year. Now seems to be the time, if there ever was a consensus that it would make the sport better, at least from a fans perspective, the "Super Bowl" coming at the end of the year. It has potent ional. Before I would have said no way, it's always been at this particular time and I don't see that changing. But now it wouldn't surprise me in the least. Would it make it better? I don't know. I think probably from a team standpoint it would.
M.com: Does the point change, in your estimation, take anything away from the Daytona 500, is it less important?
Rudd: Not really, I look at it like a 26-race series, and I look at Daytona as one of those 26 events. It doesn't really make it less important or more important. It's still the Daytona 500 - it's the race everyone wants to win. Even if you only run one race a year, this is the one you want to run. So the points situation, performance wise, it doesn't gain or lose anything.