Rudd: "It's a 26-race season"

Rudd:

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...

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.

Ricky Rudd.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
M.com: Now that Richmond is the transfer race, does that catapult it to the most important event of the year?

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.

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Series NASCAR-CUP