This Week in Ford Racing September 20, 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus, has quietly bounced back from a disappointing start to the season to be one of the top...
This Week in Ford Racing
September 20, 2005
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus, has quietly bounced back from a disappointing start to the season to be one of the top points producers since the middle of the summer. Only eight drivers have scored more points than Rudd since the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Sonoma in June. Rudd, who finished second in that race, has since improved 10 positions in the standings to 23rd. NASCAR's Iron Man, who will be making his 780th consecutive start this weekend at Dover, talks about his team's recent success.
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus
WHAT DOES BEING THE NINTH-BEST POINTS PRODUCER SINCE SONOMA MEAN TO YOU AND WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT THIS TEAM? "I think it shows that the team has been consistent. It was a period of time where we stayed out of wrecks. That's really the biggest thing that's gotten us, is wrecks this year. I think there have been eight times we've been wrecked out and finished 33rd or worse, and that's just killed us. But, we went through a spell where we didn't wreck. Even in this streak, we got wrecked at Indy, somebody hit us in the back, and we got wrecked at Richmond. But, anyway, the team's been solid. It's been a consistent, really, anywhere from fifth- to 12th-place runs at each race track, and we've got a second and a fourth, but the team's been solid. It's been solid all year. It just hasn't had the results."
SO, TAKING THE EARLY SEASON WRECKS INTO ACCOUNT, IS THIS TEAM RUNNING BETTER NOW, OR HAS IT BEEN CONSISTENT AND IT'S JUST GETTING THE FINISHES? "I think it's very similar to the way it's been all year. The performance has probably gotten a little bit better, but ninth place in that point arrangement is not because all of a sudden we just took off and started running better, it's just that we've run some races without having any bad luck."
STILL, IN SPORTS, END RESULTS ARE EVERYTHING... "I think the biggest thing is the consistency has been there. The consistency on the track, consistency of the guys working on the car and the performance has been good enough to be in the top-10 cut. We didn't get there because of wrecks, the bottom line, and these guys probably don't get the attention they deserve because of that."
WHAT'S THE FOCUS NOW FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON? IS IT WEEK TO WEEK? "I think, like you do every week, just come into each week, each and every one of them, with the mindset that you're going to try to win the race, and you'll settle for what you can get. But that really hasn't changed any, other than the fact it's a little encouraging coming to the track, knowing if nothing breaks or you stay out of wrecks that you're going to be probably somewhere in the top 10. I think the team has more top-10s than they did the first two years I was here. Even with those nine wrecks, we figured that five or six or seven of them would've been top-10s, top-fives. So, we're doing everything we're supposed to do. There's not a whole lot you can do. The qualifying performance had suffered earlier in the year but our qualifying performance has been much better. I'm thinking we're averaging somewhere in the 15th range or something week-in and week-out over the last couple of months. And that's probably has a little bit to do with why there's a stretch we didn't get into any wrecks, I think it has something to do with that, how we're starting closer to the front of the field."
DOVER AND GOOD LUCK WOULD HAVE TO BE A GOOD THING... "We got wrecked out of there in the first race- we missed the original wreck and somebody hit me in the back and shoved me into it. But, we had a good car there at Dover and that's been a good track for us over the years. To me, it was never a wreck-fest track, but it seems like it's become that recently. But, we've always run pretty solid there, won three or four races in the past and it's a track that I look forward to going to."