Kansas City, Kan. - A win at Richmond and a third-place finish at Dover has Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford, riding a wave of momentum into this Sunday's Protection One 400 inaugural race at Kansas Speedway. Rudd's...
Kansas City, Kan. - A win at Richmond and a third-place finish at Dover has Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford, riding a wave of momentum into this Sunday's Protection One 400 inaugural race at Kansas Speedway.
Rudd's finishes at Richmond and Dover helped him gain 130 points on NASCAR Winston Cup series points leader Jeff Gordon. Rudd is currently in second place in point standings, has earned 19 top-10 finishes, has two wins and has finished seventh or better in five out of the last six races.
Rudd's recent success has placed the NASCAR Winston Cup championship in closer view for the Texaco/Havoline team, and they hope to capitalize on their momentum at Kansas City.
"I'm looking forward to Kansas City a lot," Rudd said. "Our team is really pumped up right now and the Kansas track should be a good track for us.
"The championship is definitely in our grasp right now. The win at Richmond showed us what could easily happen. We can't race Jeff head-to-head every race and win the championship. It's going to come down to whoever has the least problems. We just need to concentrate on our own program and not worry about Gordon."
Fortunately, Rudd has not had many problems with inaugural races - he has earned five top-fives in the nine inaugural races he has entered, and he won the inaugural race at Sears Point in 1989.
"We've been steadily gaining points on Gordon, and with nine races left the intensity has picked up tremendously," said Rudd. "Our focus is going to Kansas City, trying to win Sunday's race and chipping away at Gordon's lead."
Rudd attributes his stellar performance this year partly to the people surrounding him - the members of the Texaco/Havoline 28 team. "This is the best team I've ever driven for and it's taken me 26 years to get this type of operation," Rudd said. "Fatback McSwain (crew chief) is the backbone of this race team, always keeping everyone together. Also, driving with Robert Yates engines makes it fun to go to the race track.
"Something I've never experienced in all my years of racing is that I have a group of guys who truly love what they're doing. I know every single week that they're going to give me a good race car. Working with them is such a pleasure."
Rudd and the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline team are 212 points behind Gordon, but as they have shown in the past two weeks, the climb to first place is not insurmountable. Kansas City is Rudd's next step in getting a bit closer to his first NASCAR Winston Cup championship title, and with the assistance of the 28 team, he is steadily and surely moving in for the points lead.