Pocono, PA -- When Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford, crew chief Michael McSwain and the rest of the crew walk under the tunnel into Pocono Raceway, they will have a gleam in their eye and a hunger in their hearts. Pocono...
Pocono, PA -- When Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford, crew chief Michael McSwain and the rest of the crew walk under the tunnel into Pocono Raceway, they will have a gleam in their eye and a hunger in their hearts. Pocono Raceway is now a special track to the Texaco/Havoline team, because on June 17th, it is where they achieved their first win since Ricky Rudd began driving the No. 28 car in February 2000.
After tasting victory and experiencing their first celebration in victory lane, the team is prepared to repeat that scenario this Sunday.
Rudd feels confident about the upcoming race in Pocono, partly because the team will be taking the same car that drove them into victory lane.
"That race car is still sitting in our shop," Rudd said. "I don't think the champagne has even been washed off.
"We learned what adjustments to make at the very end of the last race in Pocono -- that's when the car really started handling well. I'm sure that Fatback made note of what changes were made and we'll start the race better than before."
Michael "Fatback" McSwain has no doubt that a win is possible. "We are definitely using the same car we used in the first Pocono race," said McSwain. "Our test session in Indy this week should give us a little more insight into our race day setup for Pocono."
"At Pocono, we're not just going for second or third, we're going for the win."
At this point in the season, performing well at every track is essential to maintaining their position in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. Only 28 points behind Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon, the drivers who are tied for first, the No. 28 team has finished fourth or better in the last six races.
McSwain feels confident about every upcoming race remaining in the season.
"Out of the next 17 races, we can win at every track," McSwain said. "Our win at Pocono took a lot of weight off the teams' shoulders. Now we have the kind of momentum going that can lead us to a championship."
The only driver to achieve 14 top-10 finishes in the first 19 races of the season, Rudd agrees with McSwain that the team is good enough to contend for the championship.
"Our guys have stepped up to the plate and our goal right now is to keep our consistency going at each race," said Rudd. "I owe it to Michael McSwain, Robert Yates and the hard work of the crew in getting the Texaco/Havoline team to this point.
"Even though we, as a team, have started racing on the championship level, I don't feel like we have the same kind of pressure to win the championship as Gordon and Jarrett, because our team is in a way the underdog.
"Right now our ultimate goal is winning the championship. To do that, we can't make mistakes. Winning a race once is not an easy thing, so a championship would be the ultimate accomplishment."
Winning two-in-a-row at Pocono will take the Texaco/Havoline No. 28 team one step closer to that ultimate goal, and prove that they are far from being the underdog in this championship hunt.