Kansas: Ricky Rudd preview

Ricky Rudd: "... I think if anybody hits the setup on a given day, no matter if you are a big or little team, anybody can win a race out here ..." A year ago Ricky Rudd and his ...

Ricky Rudd: "... I think if anybody hits the setup on a given day, no matter if you are a big or little team, anybody can win a race out here ..."

A year ago Ricky Rudd and his #21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts team finished second at Kansas Speedway. Based on his finishes at similar tracks this year, Ricky is looking forward to this weekend's event at the Kansas City track. The driver answers fans' questions about the car, his finish last year, how the team decides on a particular car for a race and other topics this week.

RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus - As for the car for Kansas, will it be the same as last year? "I don't know if it will be the same chassis. The bodies have all been changed around since last year and that is the key thing. As the rules changed last year with the spoilers, that required some major body movements on the chassis. Based off of our Chicago performance - top 10, and we were going to be better than that but we had to overcome a pit road speeding penalty that was assessed to us, and we came back pretty good - I'm thinking that the Chicago car will probably go to Kansas. It should be a good run."

Did you test at Kansas? "No, but I put Kansas in that group of tracks like Chicago, Vegas, California, Michigan - the intermediate tracks. It's not that I wouldn't have liked to have tested there, but I think we can work off the Chicago performance a couple months ago. We'll go there with probably the same type of setup. Usually the two tracks relate to each other pretty well."

You had a great finish in the #21 last year at Kansas. In addition, Joe Nemechek has always been strong at Kansas. Is there something about Kansas that takes away the edge that big multi-car teams have on most other tracks, or is it just coincidence? "It is just, I think, if anybody hits the setup on a given day, no matter if you are a big or little team, anybody can win a race out here - if you hit your setups right. That day we were just about perfect. We nearly won the race. We could have won the race. It just didn't work out that way."

Did you keep any of cars you have won with or do they just get put back in the lineup until they are of no more use - such as Brickyard win or last win at Martinsville? "The only car I've ever kept was the Brickyard car. It is in a museum in Portsmouth, Virginia, right now."

Will you be signing autographs at the Kansas Speedfest? "Yes, on Friday afternoon. I'm scheduled to do a Q & A from 4:45-5 p.m., and sign autographs from 5-6 p.m.."

What factors come into play when picking a car for the raceway week after week? I've seen you running the Motorcraft and the Air Force cars, but it's been quite a few races ago that you ran the Rent-A-Center car. Is it more toward the motor or chassis and the way it holds the track? "The team and the driver usually sit down and figure out what car will be best at a given track. Mainly, it is a team issue. It has become pretty complex now. The driver doesn't usually know all the particulars of it. Fatback (crew chief Michael McSwain) and Hoyt (engineer Hoyt Overbagh) are the ones involved in the decision along with some others. Anyway, Fatback makes the final decision as to which car goes where. The last thing that gets done is that car gets painted or wrapped in the sponsor colors contracted for that race. We don't just save one car for Rent-A-Center races or Air Force races because it might be a road course one time and then it could be the race at Indianapolis. And, obviously, you couldn't use the same car at both tracks. So the team will choose the best car for a particular race track and then the sponsor colors for that race get applied to that car."

Do you have someone that drives your RV to all the race tracks or do you stay at a hotel during race weekends? "I do have a motorhome and driving it is a fulltime job. Donald Leach has been driving it for some years now. He used to work with us when we had our own souvenir program. He used to drive the tractor-trailer to the race tracks. A lot of time the motorhome stays on the road two or three months at a time before it comes back to home base in Charlotte. He does an excellent job. I would enjoy driving the motorhome around, but the schedule doesn't allow that."

What is your take on the recent goings on between competitors on the race tracks? "I think it got out of control. I'd like to see NASCAR go back to the penalty box. That worked in its time. I don't think assessing fines after the fact is doing the job. I think the penalty box would work."


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Joe Nemechek