Fontana: Ricky Rudd press conference

RICKY RUDD --28-- Havoline Taurus (Finished 3rd) "We came from 37th all the way up to third and had a shot at winning it. Really, pit strategy all day was good stops and good pit strategy. There at the end we did what we had to do and put on...

RICKY RUDD --28-- Havoline Taurus (Finished 3rd)

"We came from 37th all the way up to third and had a shot at winning it. Really, pit strategy all day was good stops and good pit strategy. There at the end we did what we had to do and put on two tires. I think the 48 car, Jimmie Johnson, he didn't change any tires. Hindsight, if we did it over again, I think we did the right thing changing tires. We should have made a chassis adjustment to go with the two tires, but we didn't try it earlier in the race. We didn't know how pushy our car would get, but it got real tight on those two tires. It was a good day, but a little disappointing to get that close and actually see the first place spot but have to sit there and wave goodbye to him because the car wouldn't turn."

ARE THESE YOUNG GUYS MORE AGGRESSIVE TODAY?

"I think you have to look at the equipment they're sitting in. In the old days guys came in here, Jeff Gordon sort of started this. He came in with very little experience and got into a Hendrick car with good equipment and experienced people and did very well. I think that's what you're seeing today. You're seeing not just one guy. Jeff Gordon is a good guy, but there are other guys with as much talent and they're jumping into these race cars with great people working on them and they're doing a good job. They're obviously doing a good job. Is there any magic there? I think the magic is in the race teams themselves when you've got a young driver and you've got experienced people working on it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't."

HOW IS YOUR BACK?

"I feel great. The back hasn't hurt at all. It hurt about six months last year and right now it's perfect and it hasn't hurt a bit. I was very lucky that they had surgery that could fix my back problem. I probably had too many miles under the belt. I guess we're going for that ironman record -- I guess we tie it next weekend and take it over at Charlotte. But I think my back feels like an ironman back. It's got a lot of miles on it."

DID YOU SEE THE HARVICK-EARNHARDT, JR. ACCIDENT?

"No, I didn't see it. It was behind us and I didn't see it."

WAS THE TWO-TIRE STOP ANY GOOD FOR YOU?

"Was the two tire stop any good for us, we came in about the same place that we were on the caution. I think we were second or third before the caution. We came in and took on two tires. We felt like we had to put on two tires. Unfortunately, we hadn't had a chance to do that earlier in the day. That was our first time we put on two. We knew it would work watching a couple of the other cars, but generally when you put on two rights the car gets real pushy and ours did that too. The car would not turn at all with those two tires and that was the difference. With hindsight, we might have been better off to just keep the four on there that we had because the car was turning. I think that's what Jimmie Johnson did, they didn't change any tires. Again, two tires was not a bad call, but we needed a chassis adjustment to go with it to make our car competitive enough to try to have won the race. We were just hanging on."

BOTH YATES CARS RAN WELL.

"The 28 and 88 had a good day today. We had a terrible weekend when we got here. We qualified terrible. The 88 bunch has been a tremendous help. Todd Parrott, Dale Jarrett, as far as their setups. We share setups a lot. We came here different from one another. This was one of my better chassis that I ran last year, but they cut the body off of it and put a new body on it before we got here. It's one of those deals where we were highly disappointed when we got here because it showed in the wind tunnel that it was supposed to be a good car and it didn't look like it was working out to be that way, but then we made some major spring changes in the setup. Todd Parrott came over and laid his whole setup out for us. We put that setup under the car and the two cars were pretty even today."

THE TWO GUYS AHEAD OF YOU ARE OLD ENOUGH TO PROBABLY BE YOUR SONS.

"That's good. I'm glad to see that you've got guys that can come in here and get the job done. I remember for many years I was wondering what was gonna happen when all of us old guys go away. I don't think that's a question anymore. The sport will continue and it's gonna do very well. You've got guys like Kurt, who drives the wheels off those race cars every week. Jimmie Johnson, I mean, the sport is in great shape."

WHAT ABOUT THE POINTS RACE?

"We hadn't run very well, especially the first four or five races. I mean, we were lousy. Then, lately, we've been able to click off some top fives and do pretty well in that area and, all of a sudden, I looked at the points last week and we were 100 points out of third place. We've just been quietly back there logging finishes until we get our act turned around. We haven't been good until I'd say three or four races ago. We're respectable now, but we're still not great. We're trying to get back. We made some changes in the body shop. We've got new people hanging the bodies and cutting all the bodies off the race car, so it's a major overhaul going on within the team as far as what we're doing to try and get caught back up. Today, we were OK. We were not as good as Kurt was and we were not as good as the 48 was, so we've got to get better and our guys will continue to work on it. Anytime you can come back and click off a top five until you get your act together, that's pretty good."

HOW FRUSTRATING IS TO BE BEHIND CARS AND NOT BE ABLE TO PASS?

"The worst thing is when you get back, you keep hearing everybody talk about those aerodynamic pushes and stuff like that, but your car in turbulence doesn't work very well. You give up a half-second a lap. You can take a car and put it in clean air and that's why the big fight was going on at the front because everybody wanted that clean air -- racing like it was the last lap because, really, that was going to determine who won the race was who got out front. It's very frustrating. I wish the cars weren't so aero dependent. I wish they were like they were a few years back when you could run nose to tail and you never heard anybody say aero push. But now these cars are making 1400 pounds of downforce and the cars that used to run nose to tail, they were making 300 or 400 pounds of downforce -- if that much -- so not anytime soon with the current rules structure will you ever see those cars get together and run in a pack and not hear anybody complain."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Jimmie Johnson