Talladega II: Rudd, Kenseth press conference

RICKY RUDD --28-- Havoline Taurus (Finished 3rd) "The guys in the motor shop worked hard on fuel economy, so that helped. We were one of 10 that could go the distance and there were 30 that couldn't, so that helped. We had a good race car.

RICKY RUDD --28-- Havoline Taurus (Finished 3rd)

"The guys in the motor shop worked hard on fuel economy, so that helped. We were one of 10 that could go the distance and there were 30 that couldn't, so that helped. We had a good race car. These guys went back and cut this race car up and made it a good car."

DID THE FUEL CELL BREAK THINGS UP FOR A FEW LAPS?

"I think that's what we saw. I think we expected a bigger change. If you noticed, it was kind of an odd deal. When the pit stops started taking place, for about 15 laps the cars were kind of spread out and then it seemed like 15 laps later everybody was all back together again and in one big huddle. As the race started unwinding, the last gas stop seemed to separate people even more. It was kind of encouraging to see a little daylight around you for a change."

WHAT ABOUT THE END OF THE RACE?

"We just couldn't run with Earnhardt, Jr's. Chevrolet. We were pretty strong but had nothing for him. I know Kurt was trying to help me and help himself too. He kept stepping out of line, but everytime I stepped out of line all day I went backwards, so I finally got myself in a good spot. The pit crew was unbelievable. The fuel strategy and all that worked out perfect. That got us good track position at the end."

HOW IMPORTANT IS A STRONG FINISH LIKE THIS?

"It's obvious that I'm leaving out of here and moving on. I just want them all to pull together because we've still got another win or two left in us the rest of this year."

DID YOU KNOW IT WAS OVER WITH JUNIOR IN FRONT? "I knew it was pretty much over. He was pretty fast. I don't really think he showed his hand until the end. We were running wide open in the throttle trying to keep him from getting away from us. At times they would start to ease away and then the pack behind me would close up on me and push me back to him. I made several moves during the day and everytime I would pull out of line I would go backwards, so I knew we had third locked up. If I would have made a move, I could have fallen back to eighth. I knew the car wasn't that good to be able to take the lead."

KURT BUSCH --97-- Rubbermaid Taurus (Finished 4th)

IT LOOKED LIKE TRACK POSITION WAS KEY.

"Towards the end everything tightens up and nobody wants to give an inch. I've got to give a lot of credit to our motor department to run as well as we did. That was competitive. We made the 97 Rubbermaid Ford look pretty good today. We've had some help in the past, we didn't have some help, but the car would pull on its own and I'm really proud of the team for giving me this power plant. We've had trouble with motors in the past, but today was great. We're either feast or famine at Talladega and Daytona. We're either top five or 30th or worst, so we'll take this and this will give us a bump back up in points."

YOU SEEMED TO BE GOOD OFF TURN FOUR.

"The car would cut and bob and weave and do a lot of things. I learned some things up front. I may have blocked a little bit too aggressively a couple times just trying to stay up front and not go to the back and get shuffled. There were things you could do and things you could hurt yourself with, but it was a matter of trying to keep the 15 behind you. He's a strong competitor and, of course, all the other guys. We did a lot today. We made just one mistake and pinched the 15 at the start-finish line. When you're up front you've got the rest of the field behind you and it's your responsibility."

WHAT ABOUT THE LAST FEW LAPS. EVERYBODY SEEMED TO STAY SINGLE-FILE.

"My thought process was to go with two to go, but what happens is the guys behind me think they have to go with three to go to get to the front. That makes sense, so therefore they're running side-by-side and now I've got no help from behind. I was committed to going with the other Ford, Ricky Rudd, and he just couldn't get going anywhere because the 20 was gonna stay right behind the 8. He was points racing, so there were a lot of different mind games going on. The pit stops worked out smooth. I have to commend NASCAR for the fuel cell change. It was hairy at the beginning just like it normally is, but then the fuel started breaking everybody up a little bit."

-ford racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup