This Week In Ford Racing May 6, 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup The NASCAR Winston Cup Series is in the midst of three straight night races - at Richmond, The Winston, and at Charlotte - and there is talk that the series may add even more night races...
This Week In Ford Racing
May 6, 2003
NASCAR Winston Cup
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series is in the midst of three straight night races - at Richmond, The Winston, and at Charlotte - and there is talk that the series may add even more night races in 2004. Ford drivers Ricky Rudd, Elliott Sadler and Jeff Burton are among the drivers in favor of racing after the sun goes down.
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus
"This is the time of year, I guess, that you need to eat a lot of carrots; you need to do it now to help your night vision. They're fun races. I think everyone enjoys them, and would probably like to see more of them on the circuit. I enjoy night racing, I always have. I didn't grow up racing local tracks at night, so the first night races I think I ran was Nashville, Tennessee. The old Nashville Fairgrounds, we ran there in Winston Cup at night, and I always enjoyed that then, but there weren't any other night races for a long time until Bristol came along and had night racing."
IS YOUR DEPTH PERCEPTION AFFECTED AT NIGHT? "To be honest with you, I'm not sure if it's the lighting system or what they use now, but you've got glare involved on the race track - some tracks have more glare than others - and I would prefer to race at night. To me, there's less glare. Seeing wrecks, things like that, to me, it's a little easier to see at night. I think at Richmond, especially, because when a car spins here, with the sealer on the track, it throws up a lot of smoke so the spotters can give you a little more heads-up warning on it. As far as night and day, I don't see a major difference. It's cooler in the car. To me, the vision is a little better at night than it is during the day."
FROM A MENTAL STANDPOINT, DOES IT MAKE IT A LONGER DAY, THINKING MORE ABOUT THE RACE? "That might be a little bit more of a drawback. Richmond is a two-day event, instead of a three-day event, and it's not really bad for the drivers; it's harder on the crews, because they get there pretty early and they don't leave until late. We qualify and then we run our Happy Hour, which means a pretty quick turnaround period. It's made it a lot nicer since we don't have to change motors to qualify, because that used to put everybody in a bind. But, the way the schedule is now, it's a little harder on the crews, but it really doesn't affect the drivers."
WOULD YOU PREFER SATURDAY NIGHT OR SUNDAY RACING? "Saturday night races, I think, would be fine, because Saturday night, you've got Sunday off. The way the schedule is now, if you have to run a Sunday race, you're working, doing something on Monday. I like the concept of Saturday night and Sunday off. I like that."
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus
ARE THERE ANY FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DAY RACES AND NIGHT RACES? "I don't think so. I just think the coolness just gives the track a better grip, so you might run a more-aggressive setup. The cars look a lot faster to the fans. I just think it's really fun. It's just better on everybody. The weather, there's not so much heat. The fireworks going off, the sparks flying on the car, it's just a lot better deal. As far as fundamentally, I don't think so."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR DEPTH PERCEPTION AT NIGHT? IS IT AFFECTED? "I haven't experienced anything like that yet. I don't if that's going to happen, but I really don't think about it. I think once you get out there and you're just getting used to it - and a lot of us grew up racing at night, so that was out first experience, night races - so I think our depth perception goes right back to where it needs to be."
WOULD YOU RATHER RACE ON SATURDAY NIGHT OR SUNDAY NIGHT? "I really like to race on Saturday nights - I think everybody would, so you could have Sundays off - but we got to remember the short tracks, too. That's where we all got started, so that's a double-edged sword. Yeah, it would be good for us to race on Saturday night - primetime TV, a great TV package things like that - but, also, you don't want to hurt the short-track program around the United States, the reason where we all got started at before we got to this level."
JEFF BURTON - No. 99 Citgo Taurus
ARE THERE ANY FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN RACING AT NIGHT AND RACING DURING THE DAY? "The biggest thing is the temperature, really; it's cooler at night. You know, once the race starts, you don't know if it's night or daytime anyway. It's a little more comfortable at night in the car. But, every race track is different. Some tracks actually get a little bit looser at night. But, generally there's a little more grip overall on the race track. You start the race tired because you've spent all day waiting for the race, and that's the bad part, but overall, it's more about the fans than it is about the drivers and the teams."
IS YOUR DEPTH PERCEPTION DIFFERENT AT NIGHT? "Yeah. I think everybody's eyes are different. The track has a different look, but after you run just a few laps you adapt to it very quickly. The big advantage we have is that tracks are lit so well, it's not like racing at little-bitty short tracks around the country that don't have the lighting that we've got. The race tracks that we have now that we race at night, the lighting is just so good. The only thing I don't like about it is when you go down the back straightaways there tends to be a flashing because the lights are turned such that when you go by them, it shines on you and then when you go by the next one it shines on you, so get a flashing effect, and I don't like that. Other than that, it's really not that big of a difference."
WOULD YOU PREFER RACING ON SATURDAY NIGHT OR SUNDAY NIGHT? "If we're going to race at night, we're going to race Saturday night. I mean, I don't have a vote, but if I were able to vote, it would be a Saturday night, not a Sunday night. What's nice about Saturday night racing is that the fans have the next day to get home. And, I think that's a good thing. I think it gives the fans a chance to get home, be able to go to work on Monday and resume their everyday duties, every activity that they have. I think that's the big advantage to Saturday night races. I am not a proponent of Sunday night races - unless there's a holiday or something. The deal's about the fans. When we race, and where we race, and how we race, is about the fans. It isn't about us. We are the minority of the people that are at the race track, and what we need to do is have races when the fans want to see it, and they seem to like Saturday night races. They like it, and that's why we ought to have them."
WOULD SATURDAY NIGHT RACING NECESSARILY MEAN A TWO-DAY SHOW? "It could be a two-day show. That'd be a great night."