RICKY RUDD - No. 21 - Keep It Genuine Taurus (Qualified 1st) Press Conference Part 2 of 2 WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BREAK THE DEI DOMINANCE LIKE BIFFLE DID AT DAYTONA? "Yeah, I think Greg won the race and we finished third or fourth. Not taking...
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 - Keep It Genuine Taurus (Qualified 1st)
Press Conference Part 2 of 2
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BREAK THE DEI DOMINANCE LIKE BIFFLE DID AT DAYTONA?
"Yeah, I think Greg won the race and we finished third or fourth. Not taking anything away from Greg, but he wasn't the dominant car at Daytona. The DEI cars have shown that dominance for a while and you're gonna have to have good equipment, good cars and good preparation. I feel real happy about what we've got. I think it's gonna race well. We'll see when we get in race trim. I don't know for a fact, but I hear people tell about the hours and development they spend on their speedway program - kind of like the Larry McClure team and the 4 car was a dominant car for so many years. They probably blew 85 percent of their budget getting ready for these speedway races and the DEI cars have got a lot of effort into that. As time goes along, information sort of filters out on what projects they've been working on over the years and that educates a lot of teams. They go to work and then they take that and they carry it a step farther, but one day they're gonna be beat. If you ask them, they'll probably tell you the same thing. What's it gonna take? You're gonna have to have your act together for sure, or you back into one, or you catch a break with a caution falling or something like that. But if you're gonna go out and beat 'em, I like to beat 'em on the race track. If they do get beat, have somebody do it outright and just outmuscle them. The day will come. I have no idea when it's gonna be, but there will be a new leader in that group."
IS THAT A YATES-ROUSH ENGINE?
"Yeah, technically I think it's the Roush-Yates combination, which makes good power. I'm sure, I don't know if they chassis dyno these things, but we're looking good in that area. We're real happy with that."
IS THAT A STEP FORWARD IN THAT PROGRAM?
"The motor combination has been really strong this year. The motor is not really an issue when we go to the race track. Last year we had some great motors and we had some motors that were a little weak at times. What happens is you go to the race track and you're off the pace and you say, 'Well, gosh, maybe we're getting beat on horsepower a little bit.' With this new combination, you go to the race track and if you're not fast on the watch, you can pretty much rule out that it's not an engine issue. You better go to work on the race car and get it handling better because it normally comes down to handling now. I guess it's one more element in the equation that you don't have to worry about when you come down here."
DO YOU THINK THIS MIGHT BE MORE DEMANDING THAN DAYTONA?
"I think anytime you race three-wide or four-wide all day long, it is a more mentally demanding race track. It's not that physical, but you're having to really pay attention and you're having to really stay on top of the steering wheel all day long. So in that aspect, I'd have to say it's gonna be more mentally fatiguing for sure because you're gonna be in the packs and you're gonna be running three-wide and four-wide. It's pretty typical Talladega. I don't think you're gonna see anything different than you have the last time we were here. This race track, they sort of play with the rules quite a bit - roof spoilers and I can't think of how many things they've tried to maybe break the packs up a little bit, but they haven't ever seemed to find a combination at Talladega to do that. This race is not gonna be any different. It depends on what your interpretation of great racing is, but you're definitely gonna see one large pack running together."
CAN YOU TALK MORE ABOUT THIS BET?
"I think the bet was with Judi Moritz, who is the Motorcraft representative. It just kind of started on a whim and as a joke, really, but I will say that Eddie proudly put on his pink hat when the last car ran in qualifying. I'm kind of wondering about the boy. He kind of likes that pink hat an awful lot (laughing)."
HOW OFTEN TO THE ORIGINAL WOOD BROTHERS COME AROUND?
"Leonard Wood is still actively involved on a daily basis in the race shop. He's still a brilliant man. He's kind of a little Einstein. They lock him up in a corner in the back and he whittles on things. I haven't quite figured out what Leonard does all the time, but he makes a lot of parts, I know that. He kind of just whittles on stuff, but he makes a major contribution to this race team, especially this weekend. Glen obviously comes around, but since the team moved to Charlotte I don't see as much of him. He's probably there a lot, but I only get by the shop maybe once a week.
"I'm not good with names, but Delano and there are quite a few other ones that I've sort of lost track of over the years. I don't know if Eddie is here to answer those questions, but I see Leonard quite frequently. He's here at every race track. Every race he's here and then Glen and Eddie and Len. There are a whole bunch of them still around."
DID YOU SENSE ANY MAGIC WHEN DRIVING AROUND TODAY? "Really, it was a pretty uneventful lap. I didn't see anything going on really crazy. These poles are won and lost back at the shop. We've got a great group of guys together, led by Ben Leslie that work on this thing, but I didn't see any funny things going on. They didn't tell me about hitting any special buttons or anything when I was in the car, so I didn't have to worry about any of that."
PEARSON SAID HE FELT IT WAS A RADIO-CONTROLLED CAR.
"It was amazing. I was around during that time and just getting started, but everytime you went to Charlotte people thought they had 'em covered - kind of like the DEI cars have done here for so many years - they'd go there and, sure enough, qualifying would be over and there's Pearson on the pole again."
DOES THIS POLE MEAN MORE TO THE GUYS AT THE SHOP?
"That's a good point and that's exactly right. These guys need a tremendous shot in the arm right now. If we'd have won a pole at Richmond or Martinsville or somewhere like that, a driver has a lot to do with it there and it would probably take away from some of the effort those guys have done. If we go to a road course and I sat on the pole, it probably wouldn't be a huge surprise. You come here and it's all about team effort. Right now, these guys need a big confidence booster and what better way to do it than at a crew member's race track. You ask any driver in the garage area, it's the effort that goes into the wind tunnel results and how hard these guys work it and how much midnight oil they burn speaks for itself and our guys came out on top today. So, yeah, it's a tremendous boost for those guys and they need to enjoy it because we've had a tough year."
WHAT'S THE CLOSEST YOU'VE COME TO INNING HERE?
"We finished third here maybe four times or so and each one of those third-place finishes it all got down to maybe making the wrong decision on who to draft with and who not to on the closing laps. Probably a couple of years ago when Bobby Hamilton won the race, I think we finished third that day, and I had a decision to make. The outside lane had not been the lane to be in all day long. I tried it the whole race. Everytime I got in the outside lane I'd get close to the front. I don't think we ever led it that day, but I'd get greedy and I'd move to the outside to take the lead and I'd go all the way back to like 20th. I did that all day, so finally at the end of the race with five laps to go here comes Hamilton making a run on the outside. He was coming and I could have moved up in front of him. I was sitting here and said to myself, 'Don't get trapped into that sucker hole again.' I did it all day long and would go to the back. So, here he comes and he made it work. The outside ended up winning the race for him. I had to make a big decision - do I jump in front of him? Now that effort on the outside is gonna push me to the lead and it would have pushed me into the win, but I guess I had gotten shuffled back so much during that day I said, 'Whatever I do, don't get in that outside lane,' and that probably cost me a chance to win the race that day."
IS THERE A GARAGE MENTALITY OF ANYBODY BUT DEI AT THESE TRACKS?
"It's hard for me to speak for the other drivers about that, but I think anytime you have something that happens a little bit out of the normal, you come to these race tracks for the last, I don't know 100 years, they'd win the pole and win the race. That kind of gets boring really. We just want to see something different, so I would have to say - no disrespect to the effort that they've put in - but, yeah, it would be nice to see somebody else win a pole or win a race for a change that actually goes out there and wins it and takes it away from them. I'd like to see it, whether it's me or somebody else. That's not meant as a negative towards that team because they've worked for what they've got, but it would be nice to see somebody wrestle it away from them."
DO YOU SENSE ANY URGENCY TO WIN?
"I'll tell you how urgent it is getting. There's no secret about it, Rusty and I haven't been the best of on-track competitors over the years and I caught myself at the end of Martinsville rooting for him (laughing). So that's how bad it's gotten (laughing)."