NASCAR Winston Cup RICKY RUDD HAS 19 CAREER VICTORIES IN HIS STELLAR NASCAR WINSTON CUP CAREER -- FOUR OF WHICH HAVE COME AT DOVER DOWNS. WITH ONLY EIGHT RACES REMAINING IN THE 1998 SEASON, RUDD IS STILL LOOKING FOR A VICTORY THAT WOULD STRETCH...
NASCAR Winston Cup
RICKY RUDD HAS 19 CAREER VICTORIES IN HIS STELLAR NASCAR WINSTON CUP CAREER -- FOUR OF WHICH HAVE COME AT DOVER DOWNS. WITH ONLY EIGHT RACES REMAINING IN THE 1998 SEASON, RUDD IS STILL LOOKING FOR A VICTORY THAT WOULD STRETCH HIS STREAK TO 16 STRAIGHT YEARS WITH AT LEAST ONE WIN. COULD THIS BE THE WEEK? RUDD SPOKE ABOUT HIS DOVER SUCCESS AND THE STREAK IN GENERAL.
RICKY RUDD, -10- TIDE FORD TAURUS -- HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT DOVER? "Dover has always been good for us. I'm not really sure why. I can't really figure it out, but it has been a good race track. We always go there and seem to run well unless we break or get in a wreck or something."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TRACK SURFACE? "I liked it better when it was black top. We've won one race on concrete, but did better when it was black top. The track drives a little differently when it's concrete. It's not as forgiving, it's not as much of a two-groove race track as it used to be."
WE'RE TO THE POINT IN THE SEASON WHERE KEEPING THE WINNING STREAK ALIVE IS GOING TO GAIN MORE ATTENTION. IS DOVER THE PLACE WHERE IT CAN CONTINUE? "I think it's always a good race track. You always look forward to going back to your good race tracks. To sit here and say we're gonna keep that win streak going at Dover, if you had to start picking your places you'd have to say that Dover is probably one of the better shots you got. Maybe Rockingham, Phoenix and places like that, but I've usually run well at Dover probably more than I have other places, but as far as making predictions, I hate trying to do that other than the fact Dover is a good shot for us. We haven't been close lately. We've been running in the top 10 two of the last three races which is kind of a high note for us, but if we can carry some of that momentum into Dover, it would help us. But there are no guarantees. Just because you ran well there in the past doesn't mean you're gonna run well there again."
DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS STREAK AT ALL OR IS IT ONLY WHEN OTHERS BRING IT TO YOUR ATTENTION? "I do think about it, but I look at the big picture too. My philosophy has always been if you finish in the top five consistent enough you'll win some races. We haven't done that all year. Really, to go along with our strategies, you need to start finishing in the top five regularly and then you're gonna hit a good day and you're gonna win.
"It's just mathematical statistics. We haven't been that good. I think sixth at Dover has been our best finish this year, but it's not to say we can't go in there and pick up where we left off last race, which we were fairly competitive that last race."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO CONTINUE THIS STREAK? "It's real important, but I'm looking at getting the overall performance up and we really haven't been where we needed to be all year. I started looking at it and saying, 'Gosh, we haven't won yet this year.' And I look over there at the 2 car as well as he's run he hasn't won a race all year long. So, hopefully, we'll try to keep that streak going. We're doing the best we can. If it ends, it's gonna end but it won't be from a lack of trying I can say that."
BOBBY LABONTE WAITED UNTIL THE LAST RACE AT ATLANTA TO KEEP HIS STREAK ALIVE LAST YEAR. YOU'VE STILL GOT SEVEN REMAINING. "Really, over the past years it usually comes down to late in the season. It just seems like it always has. The exception to that was last year, we won early at Dover and went on to win at Indy. Generally, we win late in the year. I remember coming down to the next to the last race at Phoenix and winning the race at Phoenix, and in the '96 season we came down and won at Rockingham, which is about the third race from the end of the year. Our history seems to show that we generally win late in the season for some reason."
WITH BILL INGLE BACK YOU'VE MENTIONED THAT YOU HAVE GONE BACK TO SOME OF YOUR OLD SETUPS. HAS THAT HELPED WITH THIS TURNAROUND? "Most of the times that's worked out. Some of the times it doesn't quite work. We tried something at Charlotte the other day that put us on the pole and led the most laps with in '95 and just couldn't make it work. I don't know if it's the tires that have changed, the construction of the tire, the body has changed, but it just didn't work and we went back to something that we've been running most of the year. We've got a whole fleet of cars now just about built. We've got at least 12 cars sitting there ready to go and it's been a long time since we've been that organized where we can get caught up and be able to do that. We started the year when Bill came on board about six races in we probably had two cars that were completed at the time, so as far as running and rebuilding the chassis and stuff it's been a pretty tough years on everybody physically. It's been seven days a week for most of the guys."
JIMMY SPENCER WON THE BUSCH NORTH SERIES RACE EARLIER THIS YEAR AT DOVER DOWNS AND COMPLETED A NASCAR WINSTON CUP TEST SESSION ON SEPT. 9-10 AT THE MONSTER MILE. HE SPOKE ABOUT THAT TEST AND HOW THE RACING SURFACE HAS CHANGED SINCE THE CIRCUIT'S FIRST VISIT.
JIMMY SPENCER, -23- TEAM WINSTON FORD TAURUS -- YOU'VE HAD SOME SUCCESS AT DOVER THIS YEAR. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING BACK? "We tested up there because Team Winston has run well there the last three races. I told the guys the track's a lot smoother. I've gotta give Mel Joseph and his crew a lot of credit for grinding it down. It's a lot faster, but even though it's a little bit faster it's so much smoother it's gonna be better on the cars and the drivers. I think it's possible there will be a new track record set depending on the weather. All in all we had a decent test, but we ran out of time. We were there for two days and we didn't get as fast as we wanted to get, but we feel we're a whole lot better than we were testing there than the last three times up there."
IS THERE ANYTHING FROM THE BUSCH NORTH VICTORY EARLIER THIS YEAR THAT WILL HELP YOU THIS TIME IN A CUP CAR? "No. The thing about the North race was that it was a real light car. The car's only weigh 3,100 pounds and bias-ply tires...a lot of things like that, but it's still Dover. Any time you make time at Dover it's better. There are some things I did in the Busch race that I applied to my Cup car as far as driving techniques and it worked out really good, especially on long runs. We were never really consistent up there. We were either tight or loose and we never could get a car balanced. The last two tests we ran long runs and we had the car fairly balanced, but we didn't have it as fast as we wanted. We feel like we can go home and study the data and the computer feedback and can plan a better attack on the track after qualifying on Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. Hopefully, we'll be able to have a good run in the 400 on Sunday."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST KEY FOR YOU AS FAR AS DRIVING THE CAR AT DOVER? WHAT DO YOU TELL YOURSELF? "I think Dover's like 'Boy, I can just go wide-open here.' And the harder you try to go fast at Dover sometimes the slower you go. Bristol is the same. They're very intimidating race tracks and then you get comfortable on them and you go, 'Man, I can really do that and I can do this.' The harder you try to run into the corners at Dover or Bristol, the slower you go."