Ford Racing Kmart 400 June 10, 2001 Michigan International Speedway RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 2nd) "It was pretty exciting. I had a little bit of a front-end push and I just couldn't get the front-end to bite in the...
June 10, 2001
Michigan International Speedway
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 2nd)
"It was pretty exciting. I had a little bit of a front-end push and I just couldn't get the front-end to bite in the corner like I wanted. I just got beat there at the end. I made a good run at him, I just didn't hold the car down on the bottom of the race track. I probably made a move a little bit too early. I had a run at him going through three and four -- I probably showed him what I had the lap before. I probably should have waited until the checkered flag, but I didn't really know if I could get a bite out there and, sure enough, I did. It was a lot of fun. I'm sorry we didn't win for the Texaco Havoline guys. They certainly worked hard enough to deserve it, but it was a good race and we moved up in the points a little bit."
DID YOU WANT A LONG RUN TOWARDS THE END?
"Yeah, we definitely needed a long run. We weren't good on the short runs and that was sort of by design. They could adjust the tire pressure around a little bit. I think at the end of the race I didn't quite understand what was going on in the pits and I'm glad I didn't have to make those calls. Fatback McSwain and Raymond (Fox) and all those guys made a good call. We came back in and ended up getting four tires and that was a big difference."
"They told me that Sterling only had two (tires). As it turned out it worked, I guess. The race track, when it would sit just a little bit and they would restart, the race track got a little film on it and it got pretty greasy on the restart. It's just everybody for themselves at the end and we ended up running second. We actually made a better run at it than I thought. We played catch-up all day. The only time we could really run good would be like the second half of a run. We weren't very good on the beginning of a run and they made some adjustments to try to fix that and the car was much better on the short run at the very end of the race. Probably the mistake I maybe made was going into three on the white flag lap. Gordon went in low and I couldn't hold it down low. I had been trying, so I drove in hard and it just kind of washed to the top. I stood in the gas and it stuck. I couldn't believe it and I was so excited about it that I went ahead and kept on coming. I got a run at Jeff and dove to the inside. In hindsight, I probably should have done that coming to the checkered flag and not the white flag lap because I got momentum on him when we got to the inside of him, but when I went into turn one I couldn't get my car to turn.
"It was like it was on ice down in turn one. Had I kept the momentum going, I would have slid both of us all the way up to the guard rail and Sterling would have jumped right in there. He was waiting for it to happen and saw it setting up, I'm sure. I backed out and thought maybe I could get another run at him, but I didn't get another chance."
SO WHEN GORDON GOT BY YOU IT WAS BECAUSE YOU COULDN'T HOLD IT IN ONE AND TWO?
"Yeah, I was in the brakes slipping and sliding and trying to keep from wrecking to be honest with you. I carried more speed in there than I thought. My only goal was to try to get enough momentum to go in the corner and try to slide up in front of him, kind of like you do in dirt, but I didn't get enough lead on him. I think we were probably still square, so I didn't have any room to go when I got there. It was pretty much over right then. On the outside, that's the preferred line when you're pinched in there really tight -- at least it was for my car. It was pretty much over right there. I say it was over, by the time I got mine gathered up and started taking off again, Jeff had the momentum and he was gone. It might have taken me a couple of laps to catch him again."
WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU PITTED TWICE NEAR THE END?
"To tell you the truth, I was a little confused. I didn't know what was going. We came in and I guess we were gonna put on four, then something happened on the pit stop and they only took on two. I said, 'That's not too bad,' because we came out and had track position. Then they said, 'Come back in,' and I knew that didn't sound particularly good, but I guess as it turns out not many guys put on four. It really mixed up the field. The cars with tires had to come from the back to the front. Sterling would have definitely won this race hands-down had that last caution not come out. It was kind of a flashback to us last year. We ended up in a similar situation, but we had two tires on late in the race and Rusty had four and kind of blew us by."
WHAT THE FINAL RESTARTS?
"It definitely gets exciting here on those restarts and it was kind of a mixed up deal. Some guys had tires and some didn't. The ones that did were at the back. It was kind of like an inverted start on a Saturday night slugfest at one of your local race tracks because you basically had an inverted restart. So, I think that made it exciting. I know it was a lot more exciting than I would have liked at times, but you just hold your breath. That's pretty typical at Michigan. You race five-wide down the straightaway and peel into the corner two, maybe three wide, but somebody's got to give. It gets interesting, it really does."
THOUGHTS ON BEING CLOSE TO WINNING.
"Just to have a car that runs this good is a pleasure. I was telling Robert (Yates) a couple of weeks ago that I'd pay him to drive a car that drove like this and ran like this every week. It just felt good to get in something that runs like this. I didn't have a very good race car in the IROC race yesterday. I've got a term for it in the garage area, but I can't say it here. It wasn't a very good day for us in IROC. It was a really disappointing day on Saturday. We were second in the points coming in and we got a car you couldn't even drive through the corner. I should have parked it. And then to come here today and have a race car that was just so good, yeah, don't get me wrong, it's great to win and it would be great not to be sitting here explaining how come we ran second, but anytime any driver gets a chance to get a car that is just competitive and has a chance to win -- you're not gonna win all of them, but if you keep putting the car up there in second or third every week you're gonna win some races. I think we're somewhere in the top five in the point standings and we've got plenty of races left in the season. Our team is getting stronger and stronger. We'll see. It's gonna be an interesting second half, I think, because there are a lot of teams that are gaining momentum as time goes on."