Continued from part 1 Q: HOW DO LINDA AND LANDON FEEL ABOUT THIS? RICKY RUDD: "I definitely had a lot of good home time. I think the other day when I was gonna go test, a few days ahead of time she wanted to know if she could pack my bag for...
Continued from part 1
Q: HOW DO LINDA AND LANDON FEEL ABOUT THIS?
RICKY RUDD: "I definitely had a lot of good home time. I think the other day when I was gonna go test, a few days ahead of time she wanted to know if she could pack my bag for me and wanted to make sure I didn't need to go early and get a hotel room, so I think maybe I get the hint that maybe she needs me to go back on the road (joking). But being serious, that's probably the big thing that will be the toughest is being gone on the weekends when I have time to spend with the family. We'll make things work some kind of way and just beg, borrow or rob time to steal to spend time together as a family. It's getting more and more difficult as racing has become more and more popular. The demands on the drivers and teams has become more of a time schedule juggling act than it ever has been in the past."
Q: HAVE YOU MADE ARRANGEMENTS TO GET YOUR LAWN CUT?
RICKY RUDD: "I'm gonna do things different. I used to do a lot of it myself and I'm actually gonna make some arrangements to get some people to fill in with all the smaller tasks just so I can have some more home time."
Q: HOW MUCH CAN YOU HELP RYR CATCH UP WITH THE CAR OF TOMORROW BECAUSE YOU'VE TESTED IN THAT CAR?
RICKY RUDD: "We went to Rockingham the other day and tested and David was there and he drove the car and it amazes me how guys who have never seen the race track before can get out and go fast right out of the box without any real previous track experience. One thing that David would not know, and there's no way for him to know that, is what the history of that race track is. When is a car really good and when is it bad and when do you need to work on it. That's something from an experience level that David would not know because he never raced Rockingham and I know the characteristics of that race track. I think that's gonna be pretty valuable experience, especially in working out the car of tomorrow. When is this car really good and when does it need to continue to be worked on. It's nice to have somebody to bounce ideas off of and it's nice to have somebody fit in the same seat and we can go out there and sort of help each other. It's not always a one-way street with me helping him. David's a pretty sharp guy when it comes to the chassis. He grew up building his own race cars and he's a smart chassis guy. That's something most guys today don't really bring to the table because they came up a different way than David did, so I'm kind of excited to have a chance to work with him."
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CAR?
RICKY RUDD: "I don't really know. We've been to a short track half-mile and Rockingham, and I don't see where the cars are really that much different driving than what I've driven in the past. They tend to slide around a little bit more. They're very stable getting in the corner, but we have yet to get on a bigger track and I think you really need to get on a mile-and-a-half track before you can really evaluate those things. Certainly we got a good feel of it at Talladega. We tested that Toyota down at Talladega several months ago and it was very stable. It's just a little bit different animal. A lot of the things that used to work on cars say a few years back, now you can kind of dig up some of the old notebooks and start applying some of that to it because the cars are different. They don't corner quite as good as the old cars, but yet everyone is gonna be equal. They're a little bit bigger car. I was telling Robert earlier, I said, 'We need to bring a lot of extra right side decals,' because I still catch myself feeling for the wall on the straightaways. You want to get out there as close as you can, but yet it is a bigger, wider car and you're sort of trying to feel your way along. I think we're gonna put some curb feelers on it so we can feel the wall and won't tear all the decals off."
Q: IS THIS JUST A ONE YEAR DEAL FOR RICKY?
ROBERT YATES: "One thing that we didn't want to do is run a one-car team, so we looked for different sponsors. The Snickers brand and what the Mars family and Masterfoods are doing for us is putting us where we can be in position to have both worlds. We've got the driver that's got the experience. We've got a young driver that needs and will have experience, and they can work together. Like Ricky said, they're the same size. They can swap cars and work together, so I think we have the best of both worlds all wrapped up in one great company."
Q: YOU AND WARD BURTON ARE BACK SO DOES THIS SHOW THERE IS ROOM FOR OLDER GUYS IN THIS SPORT?
RICKY RUDD: "I think we're just gonna sort of take it a year at a time. If we come out of the box and we pick up the pace and we're competitive, I don't think there is a time limit on this. I think it's more about being open-minded and let's take it a year at a time. As far as can an older driver compete, I think racing is different than a lot of sports. Obviously, I probably couldn't go out there and compete in the NFL because of how physical it is and with all the hits your body just couldn't take it. In these race cars, a lot of it is mental. I really don't think age is a handicap. I'm just very happy that we've got sponsors that happen to fit in with their brand and you're not considered over-the-hill from a marketing standpoint at the age of 35. The Snickers brand has taken me into their family and found room for an old guy. So it's more about the sponsorship and the television perception of the age thing than it is actually can the older driver get the job done. I don't think that's the issue as much as it is from the marketing standpoint."
Q: WHAT IS LANDON'S INTEREST IN THE SPORT?
RICKY RUDD: "It's unusual. He has a tremendous amount of ability to run four-wheelers and dirt bikes and cars very fast, but he doesn't have that desire. He might wake up one day and say, 'Hey, I think I want to try to make a career out of this,' but right now I see no signs of that. That's great. I'll support him in whatever he wants to do. I guess the hard part about that is if he didn't have the ability or the talent you would say, 'Let's go play golf,' but I'm sitting there on the sidelines saying, 'Man, this kid's got a lot of talent. I'd love to see him pursue it,' but that's his call. I don't really look for him to be behind the wheel of a car and that's his choice. Whatever he chooses in life, I'll support him. He's a pretty smart kid."
Q: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SENTIMENTAL VALUE OF THE 28 NUMBER?
RICKY RUDD: "I can probably touch on that real briefly, but I think Robert can probably answer that question the best. Just from a driver's standpoint, I always was proud to drive the 28 just because of the history of that number with Davey and Robert when they began that team, and then on with Ernie Irvan and all the great drivers that have driven that car -- Kenny Irwin -- I guess if I had a personal preference, I like the 28 just because of the history of it, but I'm sure Robert has a better answer for you on that."
ROBERT YATES: "I just like cars that run good. We've had good success with the 88 -- a championship car, but the 28 was my first number as an owner and that had a lot of value and has a lot of value. I like the eights. I'm good with either one, but my number one deal is make it run like the championship year that we could have had with the 28 several times or like the 88 car that won the championship. I'll be good with either one, but it's gonna be a company and a group decision. I'll be a 10 percent vote in that, but I think the grandstand might say 28. I'm not sure."
Q: DID YOU EVER REQUEST A PARTIAL SCHEDULE?
RICKY RUDD: "At one time I was considering a part-time deal. While they were racing, they were out trying to pursue sponsors at one time to see if they could make something work on a part-time schedule and that team there would not have been prepared to run a full schedule. There's a big difference between a part-time schedule versus a full-time schedule with Robert Yates Racing. I think you have to be in the trenches week in and week out on a real regular basis. Obviously, you've got to compete in all of them to try to win the championship and that's something that has eluded me for all these years in racing and you've got to run them all together to try to do that. For a long time I was actually turning down some opportunities because they were full-time rides at the time and I got to doing a lot of thinking about it. I think if you're gonna do this thing, you need to do it right and you need to do it full time."
Q: IS THIS A ONE-YEAR DEAL AND HOW WERE THE MARKETING DOLLARS FOUND SO LATE IN THE YEAR?
WILLIAM CLEMENTS: "Snickers has been involved in NASCAR for the past 15 years as a primary back in the early nineties and as associate sponsors ever since then. So they have been very involved in the sport throughout. In a decision such as this it's a marketing decision that we look at quite often. It's not something that you can decide in October or November to turn around and sponsor a full team. Snickers is the official sponsor of the NFL and we've done a pretty good job with that and one of the things that we know with our NFL sponsorship is that there is a huge fan base following that. We wanted to take a look at another huge sporting sponsorship that Snickers could actually own and that was NASCAR."
Q: IS THAT A ONE-YEAR DEAL?
WILLIAM CLEMENTS: "The beauty of Masterfoods is that we have a number of brands. Actually, Snickers, Combos and Pedigree all want to play at that level, so we're gonna take it one year at a time with Snickers and see what Pedigree wants to do as well, but it all depends on a great marketing plan coming to fruition."
Q: WHAT IS THE MAKE UP OF YOUR TEAM NOW?
ROBERT YATES: "We changed a lot of things. We took our experience where we had grown to 150-some employees, a lot of very young guys that were inexperienced, and we took that 150 back to 125 and we actually increased our payroll but we certainly increased our quality. We started doing that when we felt like at the end of the year we would lose a lot of people. Fortunately and surprisingly we were able to attract, and once we announced what we were gonna do with the Snickers car to the guys, they wanted to stay. I was just expecting mass exodus, but it turned out that we were able to retain the really key people and put more key people in place. So it really surprised me, but I think now we've taken an organization program that's very different than we had and then also a lot more focus on the performance side and a lot less on the media side. We're gonna let William and Masterfoods and all those guys do all the shouting about it and you guys in the media. If we can get our performance where we want it to be, I'll be happy and I think everybody else will be."
Q: WHAT WOULD GO IN TO DECIDING ON WHETHER TO PUT THE 28 ON THE SIDE OF THE CAR?
ROBERT YATES: "It's more about either the grandstands or the marketing -- what's best for the marketing. I've been dug down in the middle of the thing. I'm good with the 28, but the 88 has been our number that we chose. We sort of left that 28 alone when -- good or bad -- we dissolved our relationship at the end of 2002 with Ricky and just sort of chose a new number like the M&M car. I think everybody understands that's the 38 car. I like to wrap packages with a number that's a fun, good package. Now that we've sort of put closure to the Davey Allison car, the 28 coming back with us would be just wonderful for us, but I'll go either way. The 88 car, I'm still very fine with that number. You probably could answer better than anybody what would be the fondest number from the grandstand."
-credit: ford racing