Texas: Ricky Rudd preview

RICKY RUDD: "The car ran really good. It was good in race trim. We did one or two mock-up qualifying runs and it was pretty fast there, too." Ricky Rudd, driver of the ...

RICKY RUDD: "The car ran really good. It was good in race trim. We did one or two mock-up qualifying runs and it was pretty fast there, too."

Ricky Rudd, driver of the #21 - Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus, and Wood Brothers Racing co-owners Eddie and Len Wood have responded to questions submitted by the fans regarding the car and this weekend's race at Texas. Fans can submit questions for Ricky or the team to Ricky's web site - www.rickyrudd.com -- under "Ask Ricky."

RICKY RUDD: Did you test at Texas? If so, how did it go? "Yes. It was a one-day test. I think most of the teams were limited to a one-day test. It was something about the track not being available for two days. Anyway, we did a one-day test. We thought we were going to be okay, but we just wanted to confirm it. With the point situation, we just wanted to make sure we didn't roll off the truck and have a problem, the bottom scraping or something. The car ran really good. It was good in race trim. We did one or two mock-up qualifying runs and it was pretty fast there, too."

How valuable has your loyal fan support been to you and the Motorcraft team in dealing with a difficult start to the 2005 season? "You have a season like we're having now and it definitely shakes out the ones that are not loyal because we've had a tough season so far. The good thing I can say, I think the fans could see on a couple of occasions -- they haven't had a chance to see it much -- but at Atlanta we had a really fast car. We also had one at California and Vegas. We just didn't have a chance to show it because we were wrecked so early. The same thing at Bristol; we were just waiting for the time to turn up the wick and go, and then we got swept up in that big wreck. But, back to the fans, it is good to have that support. You hear from them that they saw you on Track Pass or on the speed chart, and they visually can see that you were fast and that gives the guys on the team a big shot in the arm."

Are you going to take the car that you had at Atlanta to Texas since they are similar race tracks? "Yes. That is the one we tested there and I was real pleased with it."

If you run well at Martinsville and move into the top 35 in points will you automatically get a starting position at Texas? "Yes. If you are in the top 35 in owner points, you are locked in for the next week's race. It is week-to-week -- 36th doesn't get you a spot, thirty-fifth does. If you are out of the top 35, I'd rather deal with that at a race that is not an impound race. At least it lets us focus on qualifying and not on race trim. If it were an impound race where you had to qualify your way in, you might be forced to sacrifice your race set-up for qualifying set-up to guarantee you will get in. At least we won't have to deal with that at Texas."

I am always amazed at race drivers who get up after a bad race and 'get back on that horse' again next week. What drives a person to do that and never give up? Is it something you were born with or something acquired over the years? "I don't have an answer for that. I came up with a lot of family support. It wasn't really the easy way to come. We are lucky that we had the support that we did. Financially, we didn't have mega bucks behind us so there was nothing easy about it. I had a dream and a goal, but I didn't know if I would be able to get there. There weren't a lot of opportunities at first, but a lot of people stuck with me, and I guess it was the determination to try to succeed. That is pretty much the way it is with all my family members. It's just that way. It doesn't matter if it is racing or what it is. They are very goal-oriented and very determined people. I guess it was just bred in me."

With the way the season has started, are there team goals at this point? "Not really. To me the big hurdle at the beginning of the year was to make sure we could come out of the box and be competitive. And, we've had competitive cars. The deal with the wrecks and bad luck wasn't factored in. Right now we aren't looking at the championship. We just want to get that top 10. We've had six of 36 races right now, and there are a lot of races to go and somewhere along the line you've got to have some things go our way."

Going into the race this week, who is the biggest motivator on the team, and how does he/she keep everyone up and focused? "I think Eddie Wood definitely is a good motivator and Fatback [McSwain] and Hoyt [Overbagh], our engineer. Everybody we have are positive people. You have to look back. A year ago at this time we weren't having the bad luck of wrecks. We just weren't running good. I mean the car wasn't a fast car. It was a 25th-place car. We could finish all the races we needed to then. I'd much rather be in the position we're in now where we have fast cars, very capable cars, top-five cars and maybe better than that. To me that is what racing is all about. When you go to a place like Atlanta and you can run in the top four or five, we were passing Carl Edwards for third when we had our trouble there; to me we accomplished what we set out to do. We didn't just walk away from there with a paycheck and our name in the roster. As a team we accomplished what we needed to accomplish, and I'd rather be in that position than to be running slow every week."

EDDIE WOOD:  How much does it cost to put a small company logo on the
hood of your car?  "Unless you are the primary, you can't just put a
small decal on the hood of the car.  Some cars have places for small
decals.  We have a spot in front of each rear wheel - I think it is four
inches by four inches.  A lot of those decals are for product, not
money.  But to buy a decal for the hood, you can't do it."

LEN WOOD: We see and hear a lot about air management as it goes over the car, but what, if anything, is done to manage, or direct, the air that goes through the radiator? Seems to me that it is simply allowed to go under the car, creating lift. Am I wrong? Isn't there some way to vent that air before the firewall forces it under the car? "We manage the air going into the radiator with tape on the front end. We factor in a lot of things, including the engine temperature. Past that we can only do what the NASCAR rules will allow, and there isn't that much air speed once it goes through the radiator. It gets dissipated."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Carl Edwards