NASCAR veteran Rudd completes productive two-day test at MIS BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Ricky Rudd has completed thousands of miles at Michigan International Speedway in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition over the years, 18,428 miles in 52 starts to...
NASCAR veteran Rudd completes productive two-day test at MIS
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Ricky Rudd has completed thousands of miles at Michigan International Speedway in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition over the years, 18,428 miles in 52 starts to be exact. This week, Rudd circled the 2-mile oval a few more times in the first NASCAR Winston Cup test of the season at MIS in preparation for the Sirius 400 (race 15 of 34) on Father's Day weekend.
The 46-year old Chesapeake, Virginia driver visited MIS this week not only to prepare for both Winston Cup races there this summer, but to improve on tracks which are 1.5 miles or higher in length.
"Some of the tracks that we have struggled at we had anticipated that they would be some of our best tracks," Rudd said. "We thought we would be good at those tracks. It's not that the cars are built wrong but the balance is a little off. It's been good to test here and we're figuring it out quickly."
"We had two cars we wanted to run off of each other, and we ran one purposely from the other. We are trying to hone in on our weakness, which are tracks of this size, much like California and others."
Even though Rudd was testing at MIS leading up to this June's Sirius 400, the team felt that they needed some help and are anxious to get things going in the right direction with consistent finishes week in and week out. "Not all of this is about getting ready for the race at MIS. If that were the case, we would have scheduled the test a little closer to race time. This is more about finding out some things. These two cars are different. One's looser and one's tighter, and we'll see which one I like around the track. It's kind of two-fold. In the back of your mind, it would be nicer if our program weren't suffering as much and we could have delayed this test, but we need an answer now."
Len Wood, one of the legendary Wood Brothers and co-owner of Rudd's Motorcraft Ford couldn't agree more. "We've had a little balance problem and we're trying to decide whether it's aero or chassis related," said Wood. "We're looking to get back up in the points. Hopefully when we show back up here at Michigan we can be closer to being back in the top ten."
"This is a track where if you missed it on handling just a little bit, you get behind quick," said Wood. "Hopefully this test will help us to be more consistent."
Michigan has always been a popular stop on the Winston Cup circuit since its Inaugural Winston Cup race in 1969. The fact that MIS is located in the backyard of the automotive capital of the world is not lost on Rudd. "I've always rated MIS second only behind Daytona and maybe Indy, second or third on the list because of just that. Not only because Motorcraft is our sponsor, we couldn't hardly operate without the factories support. There's no better way to lobby for things than to go out and perform well in their backyard."
Rudd has the most starts among active drivers at MIS and the 2-mile oval has treated Rudd well over the years. "It's been a good track for me, we've run well here before and won here before. If you asked drivers what they thought about Michigan they all would give you a thumbs up. It's because you can race here side-by-side and the track is very wide. You can race here on the top, middle or bottom and during the race you'll use every inch of that race track."
"Like everyone else you set them high and you'll have to come back and win the race, somebody's going to do it," Rudd said. "I look at it more realistically. Let's go see what we do at Pocono first. I think the group is capable of it, but we haven't been able to run in the top-15. Let's crawl before we walk. We need to get some top tens on these big tracks first."
Rudd feels like this is just what the team needed to get back on track for the rest of the season. "I think we learned some stuff here and it's been helpful. Now we'll go home and try to decipher through what we learned."
Tickets are still available to all MIS events in 2003, including the June 15 Sirius 400. For ticket information, contact the MIS ticket office at (800) 354-1010 or visit www.MISpeedway.com.