Dover II: Ricky Rudd preview

Rudd looks to mirror Kulwicki'S 1992 Championship. DOVER, Del.- With nine races remaining in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule, Ricky Rudd and the No. 28 Havoline Ford team are still eyeing the championship. Alan Kulwicki's 1992 ...

Rudd looks to mirror Kulwicki'S 1992 Championship.

DOVER, Del.- With nine races remaining in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule, Ricky Rudd and the No. 28 Havoline Ford team are still eyeing the championship. Alan Kulwicki's 1992 championship only proves that the title is within reach.

The Winston Cup championship is Rudd's primary focus. The 1992 season boasts the closest points battle in series' history. Alan Kulwicki left Dover 278 points behind leader, Bill Elliott. In a mere six races, Kulwicki won the championship by 10 points. This season's points battle is even tighter, and Rudd has the advantage of nine opportunities remaining to close the gap.

"We're 10th in points right now," Rudd said. "In a typical season we would count ourselves out of the title race. But the points battle this season is so close that the standings change every week. We may be 10th, but we're only 227 points behind the leader. I haven't given up on the championship."

Dover International Speedway may be the first step to Rudd's moving up in the point standings. Rudd has visited victory lane at the one-mile oval four times in his 27-year career, tying Bill Elliott and Jeff Gordon as the winningest active driver here. Making his 49th start here, his 672nd consecutive start and his 759th career start, Rudd hopes to leave the weekend as the sole owner of this title.

"Dover has always been good to us," Rudd said. "In June we had a great run going. Unfortunately, we had a problem on a pit stop late in the race and ended up 19th."

Rudd led three times in the June race for a total of 84 laps. Late-race pit strategy put him in second, poised to challenge for the win. As the final 10 laps were unfolding, Rudd discovered that he had a loose lug nut and was forced to pit. In September of last year, he was leading late in the race when a lapped car spun him, eliminating a chance for the win.

"I wouldn't say that we've had bad luck at Dover," Rudd said. "We've just been unfortunate to have a few bad finishes which have made our stats fall. But speaking strictly on performance, we've always been a top-10 car here."

In the five races Rudd has competed at Dover for Robert Yates Racing, he has finished in the top 10 four times, with 14th being his worst finish. Rudd also leads or ties active drivers in many other statistics here: 14 top-five finishes tying him with Mark Martin, 26 top-10 finishes leading the series and four Bud poles tying him with Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace. He has led 1,019 laps at the track.

Rudd remains confident in the Robert Yates Racing team's abilities. "Anything is possible for this team," Rudd said. "Our goal remains the same as it was when the season started: Win races and win the championship."

-pprp/ryr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Rusty Wallace , Robert Yates , Mark Martin , Alan Kulwicki
Teams Yates Racing