Ricky Rudd: "We learned some things at Bristol at the test that I think will help at Dover. At least that is what we are counting on." Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus driver Ricky Rudd and crew chief Michael "Fatback" McSwain respond to fans'...
Ricky Rudd: "We learned some things at Bristol at the test that I think will help at Dover. At least that is what we are counting on."
Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus driver Ricky Rudd and crew chief Michael "Fatback" McSwain respond to fans' questions regarding Dover, teammates, job duties and car adjustability this week.
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus --
Is Bristol similar to Dover since they are both built with concrete? "They actually are, even though one is a half mile and one is a mile. A lot of times the setup that works well at Bristol will work at Dover. You hear people talk about a 'concrete car,' so whatever runs good at Bristol will run good at Dover. To me, there are some similarities and some differences, too. There setups and shock packages that seem to be unique to concrete." So the test information learned at Bristol will carry over to Dover? "I would think so. A lot of it will carry over. We're thinking that it will. We learned some things at Bristol at the test that I think will help at Dover. At least that is what we are counting on."
Will you use the same car for Dover that you had at Bristol? "Yes, we are."
Is it hard not having a teammate? If so, why? "I can't really answer that because the teammates I've had in the past worked so independently of each other. The things that I miss are, like, during the race if your teammate tried a different air pressure than you did and it worked, it could save you from some of the trial-and-error stuff that you have to go through. In the right environment, it might be a big asset, but I never felt I was in that type of an environment. So I don't know what I'm missing if I've never had it, I guess."
How do you see your chances to break into the teens in the points? "I think it's a realistic goal. We had that deal at Richmond right toward the end of the race. I don't know that we would have been there, but we would have been close if we hadn't wrecked out. I believe that would have been a top-10 finish instead of 38th. To be honest, I'm not as concerned about that as I am about focusing on a win. I want to win a race before the year is out. I don't think we can go to every race and be a car that is going to win, but in 10 races there are a couple of good legitimate shots of winning in that time. To me that is more important. Not that points aren't an issue, but, really, when you look at it, what's the difference in a teen rather than the low 20s? But, a win would carry a whole lot more than that. My first goal would be to try to win us a race. The second goal in my mind is to get the best point finish that we can."
When you do decide to retire, are you going to miss the fans as bad as we are going to miss you? "Well, yeah. We've got a really unique fan base. We've got people who have been with us since we started 30 years ago. We've got people who have followed us and now their kids and grandkids have followed us. I think we've got a real unique core of fans who have stuck with us through thick and thin. They've been real loyal so to answer that question, yeah, I'm going to miss them."
MICHAEL "FATBACK" McSWAIN, crew chief - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus --
As the crew chief, what responsibilities fall on you and what is delegated to the other team members in preparing for a race weekend? "All responsibilities are mine, but I do delegate those responsibilities to others. In other words, I go to the engineer and I tell him what I want him to work on. I go to Rich Hubbs, the car chief, and I tell him how to set the car up, and so on. I am an administrator or leader more than anything else. Then at the race track I make the decisions on what is done with the car, tire pressures, adjustments. It is almost like being a football coach. You watch the race unfold and make your adjustments from what you see."
What role do Ricky and the Wood family have in race prep, and in building the cars? "Len takes care of the motors and the motor department; he makes sure all the cars get on the chassis dyno. He takes care of all of that. My support group and I pretty much make all of the other decisions and carry them out. Eddie works more on the business side now and the sponsor side. He has been working on that side of it for so long now that he isn't really as involved with what we do as he once was. It's a really, really important role, but his responsibilities have changed. Ricky isn't in the shop much, but we have had enough experience with each other that I pretty much know what he expects out of a car so he doesn't have to be there much. So it makes it easier for me to know what to do with the cars based on my past history with him."
I've heard the term "building adjustability" into a car. How is that done? "Building adjustability into the car is done with shocks, and we might set the wedge a certain way. Knowing that some tracks might get tighter than others, we might set the wedge a little tighter so we can free it up later on in the day during the race. So, we might set the wedge a little tighter knowing that we are going to have to undo it. We might set the track bar a certain way to adjust it easier. Only one side of the track bar is adjustable, so we might set the left side a certain way to allow us to do different things with the track bar during the race. It's just all settings and spring rubbers, and even shock adjustments. We build some quick, automatic shock adjustments in to where it's quick and easy for the tire changer to make a change. Those adjustments are built in once you know what your final setup is."