RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 3rd) WHAT ABOUT THOSE FINAL LAPS? "We really sort of had our hands full there. We stayed on our tires. I'm not sure, but I think most of the guys around us had fresher tires than we did.
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 3rd)
WHAT ABOUT THOSE FINAL LAPS? "We really sort of had our hands full there. We stayed on our tires. I'm not sure, but I think most of the guys around us had fresher tires than we did. We actually jumped out there and got the lead and started stretching it out there, and then we had those rash of caution flags. That really hurt us. Everytime we'd have a caution flag and restart, our car would push really bad so I could never get the front end of the car to turn like it needed to. The more cautions we had late in the race, the worse it got so we were pretty much playing defense there at the end of the race."
DID THE TRACK CHANGE DURING THE RACE? "No, I can say the track stayed pretty tight all day. We fought a front-end push all day, sort of like the Busch cars did yesterday. We actually started the race and were loose, but we still couldn't get the front-end to turn off the corner, so they made a few adjustments. We got way behind one time on a pit stop. I'm not really sure what happened, but we were able to make all that ground back up. It was really tough because if you didn't have track position, it was very tough to come from the back just because that dirty air made our car push worse. We don't have those big front air dams on our cars like the Dodges and the Chevrolets do and, as you could see, they were the class of the field today. But you would get in that dirty air and our car would just push, mainly because of the front-end design. I think Rusty was coming at the end. I guess he had some trouble on pit road. He was coming at the end, but he got in that dirty air just like we did and he couldn't go anywhere."
WHAT ABOUT THAT ONE RESTART? "It seemed the more restarts they had, the worse we were getting. We didn't want to see too many of those restarts, to be honest with you. But it looked like there was quite a bit of speedy dry on the restart in turn one and I went in there and slid through it. I don't know if it was the speedy dry as much as it was our tires just wouldn't hold. Again, we had more laps on our tires probably more than anybody did at the very end we were racing with. Everytime you heat the tires up and then cool them down, it gets a little harder, so I'm not so sure it was just the race track or our car gave up grip. We were pretty much just playing defense as much as we could and you really couldn't hold these guys off too much -- not at the end of the race because they're ready to go." HOW WOULD YOU SUM OF THE TRACK CONDITIONS? "I don't really have an answer for it because the bottom groove had a lot of grip. It was very good down on the bottom of the race track and the top wasn't all that treacherous. I'm not really sure what was going on with all the guys that were having trouble. My car never really came close to breaking loose, maybe because it had a front-end push all day. Maybe if I would have gotten it looser, we would have had some problems, but I don't really have an answer for it. I didn't see where the race track conditions were that treacherous. Certainly, the top groove didn't come in on the entry to the corner like we'd like to have, but not anymore treacherous than say a Chicago or anywhere else we've been running."
HOW DID YOU NEW BELTS HOLD UP TODAY? "They were still tight. I had to really un-cinch them hard when I got out of the car, so, from that standpoint, they all held up. Unfortunately, the true test for a seat belt is a hard accident and I don't want to be the guy to test them. They've been tested in a lab and everything, so I have confidence from that perspective. These belts aren't as comfortable as the belts I've been using all my career -- the Simpson belts -- but, hopefully, they'll do their job if they are called on to be tested."
DID YOU AND RUSTY TOUCH ON PIT ROAD WHEN HE GOT HIS PENALTY? "No, we didn't touch each other. I was sort of blind to what was going on there. We were down at the end of pit road, so when they dropped the jack it was time to go. I had been hugging the inside on the exit all day long. They dropped the jack and about the time I got to the line I saw a bullet come by on the right side and I guess that was Rusty. He was going. He wanted to be the first guy off pit road and I'm not really sure. That's NASCAR's call. I didn't have anything to do with it. He came by me pretty fast, but I was just getting up to speed. I can't really comment more than that because that's all I saw."