Ricky Rudd: "When we first went to California it was supposed to be like Michigan, but it's not the same as Michigan. But, you would run very similar cars at both." This week Ricky Rudd, driver of the ...
Ricky Rudd: "When we first went to California it was supposed to be like Michigan, but it's not the same as Michigan. But, you would run very similar cars at both."
This week Ricky Rudd, driver of the #21 Motorcraft Keep It Genuine Ford Taurus, responds to fan questions regarding California Speedway, the "lucky dog" rule, RPM readings and middle-age fans.
California Speedway seems to be very similar to Texas. Do you feel that the crew has found a way to keep the car from going tight coming off four. I watched the race in Texas from the infield on turn two and it looked like you were really putting some things together near the end of the race and moving through the field pretty good. Is this going to help in California? "I'm not really sure. Every place we go we are taking different cars kind of searching for what works. I'm not even sure if we are taking our Texas car to California. California is a place that if you are tight and pushing at other race tracks, you are going to be really tight there. We definitely need to get that under control and figure why the cars are going tight in the corner. Ben and the team have some ideas of some things they are working on. I'll know when I get there. They've been making changes. And, sometimes changes work for you and sometimes they don't."
Is California as boring from the drivers seat as it is from the couch? "The only thing I'll say to that question is that they need to build more Richmonds, in my opinion."
California, Michigan, Daytona all remind me of each other. Were they designed by the same people, and do they drive the same? Are the car set-ups close on any of these tracks? "California and Michigan are somewhat similar. When we first went to California it was supposed to be like Michigan, but it's not the same as Michigan. But, you would run very similar cars at both. Daytona doesn't even fit anywhere in the mix. They are all really very different from one another, but Daytona is the one that really doesn't fit. It's a restrictor-plate race. It's designed completely different than California and Michigan. California and Michigan are very similar to one another. The California design was based on the Michigan track."
With the new spoiler and tires (and hopefully new cylinder heads), do you feel optimistic at tracks like this? "I haven't seen any difference in the spoiler and tires at most places we go. The tires are probably the biggest thing. It takes different things to make them work. Air pressure is a little different, but I haven't seen what we were told was gonna happen, that we would have to change tires frequently. I haven't seen that this year. So really all the cars from last year have had a spoiler cut. But I really haven't seen anything different from last year's races."
As I understand the lucky dog rule only one car moves up. Don't you think that the car in the lead of the cars two laps down should move up to the tail end of the cars one lap down and so on down the line, or will it make a difference? "I have to be honest, I haven't really thought it out. The rules are what they are and we just deal with what we have to deal with. Sometimes it works out good and sometimes it doesn't. I'm not a huge fan of that lucky dog rule, but I'm a fan of not racing back to the flag, though."
I've been running NASCAR TrackPass and looking at the differences in your laps vs. other drivers using Roush power. I noticed you tend to turn lower RPM's off of the corners than a Matt Kenseth or a Kurt Busch. I'm guessing this is because your team runs a taller gear in third and fourth. Is there a reason for the setup being more "conservative" than some of the other cars running Roush power? "I don't really know how to answer that. If you go through the corner good, if your car is getting through the corner good, your middle RPM doesn't drop as much if you are handling really well. If you aren't handling, your RPM will drop more in the middle of the corner. Therefore, when you exit the corner your RPM is going to be less. We've been pushing at most of the race tracks this year, which means you are going to scrub off some RPMs. So what you are seeing is that we are probably starting our straightaway runs at lower RPMs than some of the rest of the cars. It's not a horsepower issue, but a handling issue."
It seems like NASCAR is ignoring the middle-aged and older fans by promoting the "young guns" and pretty much ignoring the experienced drivers. What are guys like me who are middle-aged supposed to do when the vets are all gone? NASCAR has to remember that we've been fans for a long time, and we still have a lot of time left to be fans (decades). What do you think? "Don't feel bad. I feel the same way. Sometimes it doesn't feel like we're welcome anymore. It's sort of the nature of the beast, I guess. I guess Cup racing is now about 18 to 20-year-old guys. Times have changed. It wasn't a gradual change. I think it changed when network television came in. It is part of the big money. Television is dictating what they want to see - who goes in the cars, more or less"