Rockingham II: Ricky Rudd preview

Rudd ready to "play tag" at Rockingham. ROCKINGHAM, N.C.-Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Havoline Ford, knows that there will be more than a race happening on the track this Sunday in the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina ...

Rudd ready to "play tag" at Rockingham.

ROCKINGHAM, N.C.-Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Havoline Ford, knows that there will be more than a race happening on the track this Sunday in the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina Speedway. His vast experience at the track has taught him that winning at "The Rock" means accepting and overcoming the extra challenges that the track delivers.

"This is a track where the drivers have to play tag with the wall all day long," Rudd said. "To run well here, you have to get right up against that wall and just hope you never touch it.

"There is more than one groove here. Throughout the race the track becomes really greasy, causing cars to lose grip and start slipping and sliding all over the place. While cars begin the race at the bottom of the track, by the end they're right up there against the wall.

"There is 'elbow room' but as a driver, you have to find which groove your car runs the best on to move forward."

Rudd had almost found the groove to drive into victory lane at the 1.017-mile speedway in the spring. While leading the event, the Havoline Ford stalled during a pit stop, causing the team to lose a lap while trying to get re-fired. Last year, Rudd piloted his car from a 37th starting position to an eighth-place finish.

Sunday will be Rudd's 51st start at the historic track, more than any other active driver. His only win came in October of 1996 when late-race pit strategy helped him cross the finish line over three seconds before second-place finisher and current teammate, Dale Jarrett. Rudd has earned three poles, 12 top-fives and 19 top-10's, three of them coming from the last five events here.

"This is a fun track, and I've run really well here over the years," Rudd said. "This track's been good to us. I just wish I had another win from it."

If Rudd can find his groove and avoid "tagging" the wall, posting his second win at "The Rock" may be only 393 laps away.

-pprp-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett