Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco Havoline Taurus, will start on the inside of row two tomorrow. He gave his thoughts on the race and what his thoughts will be when the green flag drops. RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus IS THE...
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco Havoline Taurus, will start on the inside of row two tomorrow. He gave his thoughts on the race and what his thoughts will be when the green flag drops.
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus
IS THE START PARTICULARLY KEY TOMORROW?
"It could and it couldn't. By that I mean it depends on what happens in the Busch race. We're gonna sit back and watch the Busch race really close and see how the groove moves up. I'm pretty confident it will move up from the center (of the corner) out. That's not gonna be an issue, but can you go down in that turn one side-by-side at speed? Right now, no, I don't think. I'm gonna watch the Busch race and I'm gonna watch the restarts. There will be guys in situations that will be trying to get their laps back, so they'll be racing very hard down into turn one. It really depends. If the groove gets moved out in turn one, then the start tomorrow won't be a big deal. If it stays single file getting into the corner tomorrow, then there will be some jockeying around and everybody will be working really hard to get in there single file. If you're on the outside, you could potentially give up a lot of positions, which would be the smart thing to do rather than charge down in there and wreck the race car."
SO THE WAY QUALIFYING SHOOK OUT, YOU'D RATHER BE THIRD THAN SECOND.
"Yeah, I'd rather be third than second and, if I had a choice, I'd rather be fifth than fourth. But that's all subject to change. It's really gonna depend on that Busch race."
Jimmy Spencer, driver of the No. 26 Kmart Taurus, will start on the outside pole next to teammate Todd Bodine. Spencer talked about being in that position and how he will approach the start of tomorrow's race.
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Kmart Taurus
ARE YOU AT ALL CONCERNED STARTING ON THE OUTSIDE TOMORROW?
"Yeah, you have to be here. At California you wouldn't be, but when you have a brand new race track like this, you don't know what to expect. When you see this race track, there's not room to go in that corner side-by-side. I don't see it. I've got some good cars starting inside of me and I hope that they give way to the guys on the outside and respect us. I would respect them if they were in that situation."
DOES HAVING A TEAMMATE STARTING INSIDE HELP AS FAR AS GIVE AND TAKE?
"I would hope that he respects the car owner as much as I respect the car owner. I mean, we did end up first and second so I hope it's a case where you would say, 'Man, let's use common sense here and not push the issue of trying to hog the race track and give way a little bit.' You don't want to tear up both cars and not have an opportunity to have a good day."
WILL YOU TALK TO TODD BEFORE THE RACE AND COME UP WITH SOME SORT OF AGREEMENT LIKE WHOEVER GETS TO THE FIRST TURN FIRST GIVES WAY TO THE OTHER?
"No. I don't know what we'd do there. I think that's not fair to just say, 'Hey, let me on in there.' I think we just have to take it normal when we drop the green flag and everybody just use good common sense."
HOW DO YOU SEE THIS RACE PLAYING OUT?
"I think you'll see two grooves. I think after the Busch race today there will be a lot of rubber put down and the groove will move up a bunch. I think you'll see a pretty good race today and you'll see a better race tomorrow without question."
Brett Bodine, driver of the No. 11 Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus, will make his second top-10 start of the season Sunday afternoon when he starts 10th in the Tropicana 400. Despite starting up front, Bodine expressed some concerns about being on the outside row when the green flag drops.
BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus
HOW DO YOU SEE THIS RACE SHAPING UP TOMORROW?
"We're gonna know more after the Busch race, obviously, with cars in competition and double-file restarts and those kind of things. In Busch happy hour yesterday we didn't see anybody even try to attempt to run out there, so it's not looking good right now for a second lane. That's going to put a premium on getting off the corner and straightaway speed because if you have to do all of your passing on the straightaway, you've got to have enough speed to do that. Horsepower and getting off the corner and getting in the throttle is gonna be the key, instead of maybe running up on somebody going in the corner and making a pass. We're just gonna have to see what happens during this Busch race and, hopefully for everybody -- the race fans and the competitors -- the groove starts to widen out or at least the useable race track starts to widen out because it can cause some impatience which causes accidents and we don't want to see that."
WITH A TRACK THAT HAS SO MUCH GRIP, WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO GET A SECOND GROOVE?
"It's just only in the groove. If you could have been here from the first lap that was run on the race track and monitored the speeds, the fastest lap on this track ever was run in qualifying yesterday. It's been a progression of speed since the track's first lap and that's because we get that groove rubbered in to where the grip gets better and better. Dale Jarrett and I were talking the other day and he said, 'I wonder if the first people who came here and ran would have run in a different spot, if that would have influenced where the groove was.' If they would have come and ran one lane off the bottom, would that be where the groove is today? That raised a good point. When we were here testing I tried to get a hold of some race track people to say, 'You need to do something to entice people to go in the second lane. Let's have an open practice session with ARCA car or something, or open driving schools and put pylons up so you've got to drive around the outside of these cones.' I suggested it to NASCAR. I heard Richard Childress was in the trailer yesterday suggesting the same thing. We should go out in our morning practice and only run in the second lane. I'm gonna go back over there and suggest that again because I feel that strongly about it."
WHAT ABOUT STARTING 10TH TOMORROW?
"I'm concerned about being in that outside lane. I feel like I'm probably gonna lose a minimum of five to eight spots right at the start."
SO THOSE GUYS ON THE OUTSIDE WILL BE TRYING TO GET DOWN LOW AS QUICK AS THEY CAN?
"Yeah and what happens when you try to get somewhere in a hurry? It can be a problem and I think everybody is concerned about that. We had a great run on Friday. Our race team continues to show that improvement and this is great for us. In a way, coming to a new race track I think it realistically shows more of where we're at versus teams that have a great book on race tracks. We've been fast all weekend and we're just anticipating a good, solid weekend."
YOU FINISHED SECOND IN THE INAUGURAL BRICKYARD 400, SO YOU'VE HAD SOME SUCCESS IN NEW RACES.
"Yeah, it just seems like we adapt pretty good. It's fun to go to a new venue for a lot of races and, hopefully, we can have a good run on Sunday."
Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 66 Blue Light Special Taurus, will start from the pole in tomorrow's Tropicana 400. He spoke about the keys to starting up front on a race track that might have only one groove.
TODD BODINE --66-- Blue Light Special Taurus
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE RACE TOMORROW?
"The race track is pretty incredible. It's fast and right now it's kind of the same as all new tracks. It's gonna be one groove for a while. I think by the end of the race there's gonna be some outside groove, but not a lot. It's gonna take a couple years of racing and a couple summers with the sun to wear the inside groove out and then once that starts happening, you're gonna see one heck of a race at this race track. You're gonna see two and three wide. The facility is phenomenal. They did a great job and I'm looking forward to a lot of years of racing here."
WILL TOMORROW BE KIND OF A FREIGHT TRAIN TYPE OF THING?
"Yeah, it's gonna be hard to pass. You're gonna have to wait for the guy to slip up off the corner and be able to drive up underneath him. You're not just gonna drive to the outside and go around him because there's no outside groove. It's gonna be one lane. Track position is gonna be critical. We've had great pit stops this year and they've gotten better as the year has gone on. Hopefully, that can keep us up toward the front and we can stay out of trouble and get a good run out of it. We'd like to win. That's what we're here for, but, realistically we need to get a good finish, a good top-10 solid run and try to move up in the points."
IS IT MORE BENEFICIAL BEING ON THE POLE, GETTING THE PREFERRED PIT STALL, ON A TRACK THAT MAY HAVE ONLY ONE GROOVE?
"Yeah. Track position it gonna be critical because of the one groove race track. Qualifying well is very important, but at the same time you're gonna see a lot of pit strategy come into play. These tires are phenomenal. They don't wear out. Goodyear has done a great job with these tires, so you're gonna see a lot of two-tire pit stops for guys trying to move up in the pack. Strategy is gonna play a key role in it."
YOUR BROTHER BRETT IS CONCERNED STARTING IN THE OUTSIDE LANE. IS THE START GOING TO BE CRUCIAL?
"It's going to be hard. The guys on the outside are in trouble because there's just no grip out there right now. It's a situation where there's gonna have to be a lot of giving. The guys on the inside are gonna have to be aware that those guys on the outside are slipping and sliding and make sure that they give a lot. It's going to kind of be like Daytona where it's 95 percent give and five percent take."