Ricky Rudd, driver of the ...
Ricky Rudd, driver of the #28 Texaco/Havoline Taurus, is in eighth place in the point standings heading into Sunday's Pocono 500. Saturday, he talked about the race and joining a new team, among other things.
RICKY RUDD - 28 - Texaco/Havoline Taurus - CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SUNDAY'S RACE? "I just been real pleased with the performance with the Robert Yates/Texaco team the last, really all year long, but especially the last five races. We've got three out of the last five have been top fives - really should've been five out of five, a couple of miscues late in the race, freak things happening, but performance has been there. I can't think of anybody that's probably been any more solid than that week in and week out, so I'm really happy about this weekend."
HOW TOUGH IS THIS TRACK TO DRIVE? "Not very. It's not really very tough. It's one of the simpler that we run on the circuit. It usually, it becomes a handling track as most of the tracks are. It starts off, maybe the first third of the race, straightaway speed kind of makes up for any handling irregularities, but later on as the race progresses, you gotta handle and run down the straightaway."
ARE YOU MORE RELAXED THIS YEAR? "Well, life is much simpler, much more enjoyable. I just get a chance, the privilege, to drive a fast race car, and don't have to worry about all the headaches of the day-to-day business side of it. It couldn't be any better right now."
IS IT A RELIEF MENTALLY? "Well, it's working two jobs, two heavily stress-related jobs, and now you've done away with the burden of one of them. Life has gotten much simpler and freed up a lot of my time, and I'm just having a great time."
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO HAVE DALE JARRETT AS A TEAMMATE? "Well, anytime we get in a bind or those guys get in a bind they're able to come and take a look at our set-ups and we go look at their set-ups. It's a relationship that hasn't been that strong between the two teams over the years but I'd say right now it's probably stronger than it's ever been."
WHAT ABOUT THAT STREAK THAT GOT SNAPPED LAST YEAR? HOW DISAPPOINTING WAS THAT? "Well, it was disappointing, but I think the reality of it we were prepared for. You know, we just got way behind the money curve, we locked ourselves into long-term contracts and just under-funded by 50 percent, and if you don't have the money to buy the parts, to hire the good people, to go to a wind tunnel, you're gonna get behind, and that's what happened to us. As far as the streak coming to an end, I hated to see it go, but realistically it probably should have went the year before."
IT'S STILL THE THIRD-LONGEST STREAK IN NASCAR HISTORY. "I like to look at it as the longest in modern-day history, I prefer to look at it that way." NOBODY'S CLOSE TO IT RIGHT NOW. "We'll have to wait and see what happens, you know, all streaks come to an end and all records are broken one time or another, so we'll see."
WHAT ABOUT THE SCHEDULE GOING TO 36 RACES NEXT YEAR? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? "Well, why not go ahead and just make it 52 weeks a year, you know?
ARE YOU READY TO GO 52 WEEKS A YEAR? "Why not, we're doing it now anyway."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TRANSITION TO THIS TEAM. HAS THE LEARNING CURVE BEEN WHAT YOU'VE EXPECTED? "I really feel like we're ahead of the schedule on that. We figured that we wouldn't be really a contender for wins until the second half of the season, and I feel like we've arrived a little early. We put solid performances together - the last five weeks in a row have been real solid performances. To do it every now and then is usually a sign of a new team, but to be able to do it week in and week out, to me, has all the makes of a championship caliber type team. We still got some weak areas we gotta work on, but it's coming very quickly."
ARE YOU CLOSE TO THE NEXT STEP FROM RUNNING IN THE TOP FIVE TO WINNING? "I'd like to make it that way. If you go back and look at the history of some of the cars that have won races, they haven't had a solid performance week in and week out, top fives, like we have. And, I've won races in the past that way myself. I think '98 we didn't finish in the top five hardly any at all and all of a sudden we had a good day at Martinsville and we won the race. You can win like that, but I think for the week in and week out, if you can just keep logging top-five finishes, you will win some races - it's just a matter of mathematical statistics, you will win some races. Our goals are just simply to go out there and log top fives, predicting wins and all that's really hard to do, but logging top fives, if you're doing that, you'll win some races."
Wood Brothers announced an expansion of its association with Roush Racing Saturday.
EDDIE WOOD, co-owner of the #21 Citgo Taurus - "What we're gonna do next year is we're gonna have, we're gonna be running Roush chassis', just like Jeff and Mark run, and Roush Racing will also being hanging our bodies, the same people, you know, that do the 6 and the 99. And this is going to enable us to, you know, we'll be closer to the right kind of technology. Being a single-car team like we are, this enables us to be a multi-team car by association to help us get the right, to do the stuff right to start with. Being a single-car team, you have to experiment every week. You know, you hung that sweet spot with the chassis, with a body, with this and that. With this, we'll have all the resources and how it'll benefit Elliott, he'll have someone to compare stuff to because right now, probably no one in this garage - I mean, everyone in this garage runs something different, except, you know, each individual multi-car team. He has no one to compare to. Like, if he's feeling this or that in the car, he really has no one to talk to that's gonna give him the same feedback, so he can go talk to Jeff or he can talk to Mark or Matt or any of those guys. If he's running the same chassis', he's got the same thing. That gives him something to compare with. It also will help our crew chief, Mike Beam. He'll have someone to go talk to in Fennig and those guys, to help him with what he's doing. You know, you're running this, we're running that. That way we can all have a base line and get more consistency. Consistency is the main thing."
HAS THIS BEEN IN THE WORKS? "It's been in the works for quite a while. You know, we already had an alliance with Roush so far as the motors and some of that stuff, but we just took it a step further and we're going all the way now."
ELLIOTT SADLER - 21 - Citgo Taurus - HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS? "I think it's great. I don't think I can actually put in words., I don't know if you all are grasping how big this really is to us. Right now, I share mental notes with Mark and Jeff a lot and Kevin, but we're running different equipment. Like, we might hit up on something and I'll like to share that with Mark or whoever, but it's not in the same car, it's not in the same chassis. 'Well, where's your chassis at? Where's your body hung at?' 'Well, don't know.' 'Well, we don't know if it's gonna affect us the same.' But now, we can really share information, car to car, chassis to chassis. I mean, our bodies will be hung on plates right beside each other at the same location, where, if we have a problem, can really help me out as a person, as a driver. Right now, there's really nobody I can turn to in the garage and get word for word what my car needs to be feeling like, because their's is feeling this way or feeling good, so it's gonna help me big time. I don't think I can out into words what it's gonna be like. We're just taken our single-car team and we just made a six-car, multi-car team out of it and we haven't moved the shop, haven't done anything - just they're going to build our chassis' right on the same plates. They gonna build our bodies right on the same plates. We're still gonna bring it to our shop and do the plumbing and the seating and all that, but when we come to the track, I'm gonna feel as a driver that I have a Roush car, exactly like Mark's or exactly like Jeff's, so if I have any problems I can go to those guys and say, 'This is what my car's doing. How can I fix it?' or blah, blah, blah, and we've done that a lot this year already between all the Roush teams, but it's not working 100 percent because our cars are not the same."