FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Goody's Body Pain 500 Advance April 16, 1999 Martinsville Speedway Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 10 Tide Taurus, returned to Martinsville Speedway this morning for the...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Goody's Body Pain 500 Advance April 16, 1999 Martinsville Speedway
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 10 Tide Taurus, returned to Martinsville Speedway this morning for the first time since his dramatic victory in last fall's NAPA 500. Despite the sweltering heat outside and the blistering his body took inside, Rudd ran his streak of at least one NASCAR Winston Cup victory per season to 16 with that win. Rudd, who captured his first career pole at this track in 1981, spoke about returning to Martinsville and his hopes for the weekend.
RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- DID YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL THOUGHTS WHEN YOU WALKED INTO THE TRACK THIS MORNING AFTER WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH IN THE FALL? "I'll be honest, probably the first thing I noticed was how the race track looks different with the pit road situation and building up the wall instead of having that small curb. You're used to seeing Martinsville for 20 years looking one way and now it looks something different. It didn't seem like it was that long ago. It seems like it was only maybe about 30 days ago that we were up here racing that race, but I've always like coming to Martinsville. Even though it's a small track with a lot of bumping and shoving, it can be a fun race track to drive. It takes a lot of discipline to run it."
DOES THIS RACE MEAN A LITTLE MORE BEING A VIRGINIA NATIVE? "Racing in my home state is always pretty neat. This thing actually sits right on the Carolina line, so Richmond is the race track where I feel like I'm really at home. But Martinsville, being in northern Virginia, I've always enjoyed coming here and running, but as far as a home track feeling there's probably not as much of that here as there is at Richmond."
DO YOU HAVE THE SAME CAR THAT YOU WON WITH LAST FALL? "Yeah, the same car. Everything is pretty much the same. We pretty much put it in moth balls since then. We might have run it at Phoenix, I'm not sure, but it should be back to where it was. I've got the same seat with more insulation and a different helmet."
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF DISCUSSION THIS WEEK ABOUT THE STATUS OF YOUR TEAM AND THAT YOU MIGHT BE SELLING. WHERE DOES THAT ISSUE STAND? "They had Chip Ganassi basically buying the team and I've never talked to Chip. I obviously know the name, but I wouldn't know what he looks like. I didn't talk to Chip or any representative for him. I think what happens is that people know that we're looking at trying to make some business changes in the team and, if we could take in the right partner to make the team stronger and better and help me with the business side to expand that would be great. We definitely need to be looking at going with a multi-car team whether it's now or next year, but it's gonna take more than me to be able to handle that because it's become big business. I've got a couple of people I've been talking with, I haven't been talking to a whole lot, just select groups that have to have the same goals that I do. Number one is to make the team better and not look at it as, 'Hey, there's a lot of money to be made here,' but rather, 'Let's spend some money and make it a better team.' I'm entertaining some of those ideas, but, again, it wouldn't be Ricky Rudd selling the team out. I want to walk away from the day-to-day of the operation and go back and focus more on driving, but it's gotta be the right person that's got some business background. There needs to be some restructuring is the best way to say it. When I started the team in '94 and ran in '95 and '96, racing wasn't a big business at that point. You could run it like a small business, but I guess what I'm saying is I see there needs to be some internal changes to keep up the pace because the sport's changing so quickly. If the right situation came along with the person that had the financial backing and the business experience to run a big operation, I would entertain that as a partner and I would step away from the day-to-day and just basically go back to driving. The biggest key is it would have to be the right deal to grow the team and expand the team, not to just basically buy the team out."
YOU SAID LAST SEASON THAT YOU SET A PERSONAL DEADLINE AS FAR AS POSSIBLY STARTING A SECOND TEAM. IS THERE ANY SUCH SCHEDULE WITH THIS SITUATION? "No, not really. With what we're talking about I don't think you can put a deadline on it. If you go into it saying, 'I'm gonna have a second-car team and that's my number one focus,' the way I'm structured right now that wouldn't be a smart move. There needs to be some restructuring. We've got some good business people, don't get me wrong, but we really on have one of them. We don't have a whole bunch of business people like these other teams. We need to have the right business structure. We've got a great financial guy, but we don't necessarily have a personnel manager. These are the type of support people that I'm talking about, that you're going to have to plug into the equation before you even think about expansion. I think the management structure needs to be set up first and then, once you get the people in place from the business side of it, then you start looking at entertaining sponsorship opportunities and things of that nature. I guess, to say the least, there will be some restructuring going on within the team whether we stay Ricky Rudd owning 100 percent of the team or not. I'm gonna back away from the day-to-day stuff more and more."
JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "We're a little disappointed. Qualifying here is tough and the rest of these guys gotta do that too. After practice you sit around and the track changes and when you go out it's a lot different. We'll take that and do the best we can and go from there."
ELLIOTT SADLER -21- Citgo Taurus -- "I kind of messed up a lot on my second lap, it's not what I really wanted to do. These Citgo Ford guys are working pretty hard and we think we're really gonna have a good race car but we've gotta get in there first. I just wish I could have that second lap back a little bit, just trying too hard. I just want to do good here for all the guys from Virginia and being here at home, but hopefully we'll get in by that and we can just work on race setup in the morning and have a good run on Sunday."
BRETT BODINE -11- Paychex Taurus -- "We really concentrated on that last lap, that's the money lap. Unfortunately, we didn't get a good practice qualifying run. We got in some traffic with our new tires on, but we really weren't sure what we could run. I was really hoping for something in the mid-90s. I think that's what it's gonna take for the pole. That was a good run for us, very strong. I think we're gonna have a good starting spot for Sunday. I'm real proud of these guys because they haven't given up. We knew this was gonna be our strongest track so far this season, and hopefully we can turn it into a good run on Sunday."
TED MUSGRAVE -75- Remington Arms Taurus -- YOU WIGGLED A BIT IN FOUR, HOW MUCH DID THAT HURT? "Evidently, it cost quite a bit, but the car did run in the 19-second bracket quite a few times (in practice). A little wiggle here at Martinsville, anybody can do that and it costs you big. What it's all about, though, is 500 laps and a lot of cars can't make 500 laps. We've got a pretty good setup with a nice car, so we just need to keep our head on our shoulders and work our way to the front."
RICK MAST -98- Yarborough/Burdette Motorsports Taurus -- "The second lap I tried to pick up about a tenth and a half and I screwed it up. I should have settled for half a tenth and I'd have been alright, but we're going to the frontstretch now (for pitting -- ha, ha, ha). We made some changes after practice and the car was pretty good. The first lap it drove like a dream and stuck good. I thought I had more in it than I actually had the second lap, but if I hadn't tried so hard the second lap it would have been better, but we'll take it. This team is unsponsored and each week it keeps impressing me. It's gotta be the surprise story in the garage area. Every week there's no sponsor, but the guys keep digging. Every week we've got good motors, good chassis, so we'll see what happens Sunday."
RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- "I felt like we left a little on the table. We didn't quite get it adjusted like we wanted, but we've come a long way. We unloaded it figuring it would be just like it was last race here and it wasn't. It took some adjusting to get this car like we wanted it and it's still not there. I felt like I had a good first lap and I probably overdrove a little too hard. I knew I had a good insurance lap and I was going for the pole and didn't make it. I slowed up a little bit. This is the same car we had last time, but it's good and insulated so I hope I won't get burned this time. The rules are a little different than the last time we were here and we're searching a little bit. The car has been pushing and we've been a little bit too tight, but we think it's gonna be good for the long run."
MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Taurus -- "That was a real good lap for us. I can't thank Jim Fennig and all these guys on the Valvoline/Cummins team enough. We had a good car here last year, but we usually struggle qualifying. We tried a lot of different things in practice and we found some things that I really like in a car. I knew I messed up that first lap a little bit. I knew that if I just drove the car as fast as it would go the second lap would be better. I don't car if we get the pole or not, we're sure gonna be in a lot better shape than we usually are for a starting spot."
ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "We just tried a little bit too hard (on the second lap). We tried to be conservative with that first lap and the second one bit us, but that's good for this Jasper Engines team. Now we'll get ready to race tomorrow and have a good run on Sunday."
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO PICK UP YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT? "A lot of little things. The whole team is making qualifying better and we're racing better too. It's hard to say one thing is making a difference, it's not. I think it's just a case that this team is coming together."
KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "That's the way we ran in practice, so I guess we can't be too disappointed. We always like to run better, but that was it. That was all we had."
DARRELL WALTRIP -66- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus -- "It was pretty good. That's as fast as I've run all day. I tell you, the Big Kmart team is just doing a super job for me right now. We worked real hard on the qualifying. People were giving me a hard time about that and we've worked real hard on that. Now we've gotta work on our race program, but I've got a good feeling about this weekend. This could be the weekend where we really turn some heads. I think this team is coming right along like I thought it would."
WHAT ABOUT THE PIT ROAD DEAL? "You've gotta be careful what you pray for sometimes and we've all been praying for one pit road here and we've got it. Now we've gotta help them make it as good as it can be. There are some things we can probably change about it, but I know Clay and these folks here, they'll do everything in their power to make us happy and I appreciate what they've done."
JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- I hit the curb a little bit getting off of four and that hurt us a little bit, but it was a real good lap for us. That's by far the best we've run all day. We made some changes just before qualifying and just about everything we did seemed to help. The starting position is gonna be real important here. I'm real proud of what we did today. I actually got on the curb exiting the corner. It hurt us a little bit, it wasn't much."
RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- "It was a good lap. We practiced a .93 and ran a .91 just then. That's just hardly nothing off the pole."
AFTER THE WIN LAST WEEK, HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO THIS RACE? "I feel really good going into the race. I'm excited about it. I've got a brand new that's running strong, so we're pumped up, psyched and ready to go." DO YOU GET A LITTLE EXTRA JUICE AFTER WINNING? "Yeah, I guess. I mean, I'm excited after we won last week because of the momentum we gained, so we're in good shape I believe. The car ran great today. We barely missed the pole and then Tony Stewart went out and ran that .87 and that was a really good lap, so I'm happy with fifth. That's a good starting position for us."
JIMMY SPENCER -23- Team Winston Taurus -- "We were real fast this morning. We were right there, but I overdrove the first lap. I was trying to sit on the pole and then I knew I didn't do it, so I had to get a realistic lap in. We felt like we could run about a flat and that's what we did, but we also tried to run in the 80s and it didn't work, but it's a big accomplishment for us really. We've had a tough year and I think that we've run well in the past at some of the short tracks and we hope we can do it Sunday here."
HOW ARE YOU PHYSICALLY? "Alright. This isn't nowhere near what Bristol is being this is a flat track and it's not real hard with the g-forces and things. I won't put any tape on this week."
JERRY NADEAU -9- Cartoon Network Taurus -- "I'm happy for the guys. We came out here and tested and we felt we were in good shape when we ran a 20.13 and then we got here and 20.13 was in the back of the field, so we had to turn it up quite a bit in qualifying. The guys did an awesome job. A top five run for us, that's a great run for us." HOW MUCH DID TESTING HELP? "I've always struggled here in the past. We know we've got a good race car and I actually think it's a better race car than it is a qualifying car, so I'm pretty happy to be starting top five."
MARK MARTIN PRESS CONFERENCE
CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE NEW PIT ROAD? "For me, I'm gonna reserve the right to comment on it until the end of the race. I don't think backstretch pits should be a thing of the 21st century in Winston Cup racing. I'm certainly a fan of trying to have one pit road, but I don't know how it's gonna work having a pit road that's two-thirds of a lap. We'll see after the race."
DID THE TRACK OR WEATHER CONDITIONS CHANGE LATE IN QUALIFYING? "I can't be exactly sure. It looked like the times there at the end started to pick up, but it might have been that the fastest cars went at the end of the line too. Today, things wound up as they did and if we do it again tomorrow they might wind up a little differently. You never know about it, that's what makes it so interesting."
JEFF BURTON PRESS CONFERENCE
CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE NEW PIT ROAD? "Some people are gonna get hurt by pitting under green. If you pit under green and the caution comes out, you're gonna go a lot of laps down. That appears to me to be about the only negative. Everybody has a different opinion, but from the opinion of a guy that doesn't normally qualify very well, when the race starts and you're on the back straightaway, you have very, very little chance of winning that race. This pit road, if you're running in the front you're not penalized by where you've qualified. You may be penalized because you're running in the back, but I think in Winston Cup racing we get paid points for racing. The only thing that pays in qualifying is the pole. There are no points paid for how you qualify, so everything around Winston Cup racing is built on racing, so why should there be a pit road on the back that hampers you from winning that badly? To me it equalizes it a little bit and you're not penalized for qualifying poorly, you're penalized for racing poorly and I'm more comfortable with that because we don't qualify well."
WHAT ARE YOU IMPRESSIONS OF TONY STEWART? "They've done a great job. Tony Stewart, when I was running against him in the Busch Series, I was real impressed by his ability. Tony is gonna be a guy that we're gonna have to race for a long time. Greg Zippadelli, who was on our team last year, has gone over there and done a great job as the crew chief. They're just doing a good job. No matter what you say, they're a rookie team that is taking advantage of the tests that they've got and they're doing a really good job. They deserve every bit of credit that they get."