This Week in Ford Racing October 19, 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 10 Tide Taurus, has four races remaining to extend his streak to 17 straight seasons with at least one victory. His next opportunity will be at this...
This Week in Ford Racing October 19, 1999
NASCAR Winston Cup
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 10 Tide Taurus, has four races remaining to extend his streak to 17 straight seasons with at least one victory. His next opportunity will be at this weekend's Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina Speedway, a place where Rudd has posted three poles and one win in his career.
RICKY RUDD --10--Tide Taurus: HOW DO YOU LIKE GOING TO ROCKINGHAM? "It's been a good track over the years. Some of these places you go end up being good tracks for you. I really don't have an answer for it except it's just been good to me. It's one of those good percentage race tracks you look forward to going to because you usually know you are going to do something good there."
WILL YOU HAVE A YATES ENGINE THERE? "No. No, not there. Probably the next time I'll have a Yates engine will be maybe Phoenix. At Rockingham it (power) is not as big a concern, especially in the race because generally the track gets pretty slippery there. You start spinning tires off the corner and generally horsepower is not the deciding factor. It can be in qualifying, but not so much in race trim."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THESE LAST RACES THAT ARE COMING UP THIS YEAR? "I really haven't thought of it too much. I just know to me it is another race that we are going to try to win. Even though our team and ownership days are winding down with only four races remaining, my biggest thoughts are on we need to win. We need a win to keep my win streak alive. And then as an owner, I'd like to go out of the sport ownershipwise with the win streak from day one as an owner until the last day we were able to win a race every season. There's not many owners that can make that claim. It's real important for me to be able to do that. It might not happen, but we're giving it 120 percent trying to make it happen. But as far as getting caught up (in it) probably the last race in Atlanta it will sink in a little bit when we are sitting in the starting line-up. Maybe the emotion will kick in a little bit that this is the last race. But right now I'm kind of looking forward for it to wind down. Ever since July when it was announced that Tide wouldn't be back, it has been a pretty hectic pace. And now we are in the shutting down phase, and it's not that simple to shut a business down so there's a lot of extra hours that we've been putting in. We've got some girls in the office that have just gone out of their way to try to wrap things up and bring things to a close. It's about as hard to wind something down as it is to start a business. It is as detail-oriented and time-consuming as it is to start a business. I'm looking forward to be able to have a breather, have a rest. We're gearing up for an auction right now that will be Thanksgiving weekend. We've got three people that are interested in buying it, and if they can come up with the money before the auction then we can work something out, but I'm looking forward to closing this chapter and starting a new one."
YOUR CREW CHIEF MICHAEL MCSWAIN IS RELATIVELY NEW BUT THE TWO OF YOU SEEM TO BE COMMUNICATING WELL AND HE WILL BE GOING WITH YOU TO YATES. "Michael came in and basically inherited a lot of luggage with the cars that we had. Basically, we were not up-to-date with the way the cars were built. So he's had a pretty tough go of it getting new cars built to his specs. Ever since we first started getting his cars in the system we've run a lot better. We still don't seem to have the finishing results that we should be getting. Several top-tens and top-fives have slipped away from us late in the race just to freak things. I think a rock in the transmission shifter at Watkins Glen with about five laps to go, that's sort of the way the season has been. We haven't been a dominating car, but we have been a top-five, top-ten car on occasion. He inherited a lot of cars and stuff that we'd built, so he has been in a re-build mode. It has taken us until just now, three or four months of racing to learn one another. These tracks we're going to for the first time together. About happy hour I wish we had one more practice because knowing what we know now we're about one more practice away from being a real good car. We'll at least have this season under our belt so that when we start next year we'll have that Talladega race under our belt, that Rockingham race under our belt. I'm looking forward to it. He's a real good crew chief, young guy...real respected in the garage area. All he focuses on is racing. He has no other interests, side hobbies, just racing. And he came up kind of an unusual way. He was kind of tutored by Robert Gee and Harry Hyde. Kind of a young guy with an old school background."
DID YOU PUSH TO HAVE MICHAEL MOVE OVER TO YATES WITH YOU? "I've really tried to stay out of the ownership roles. Whichever way Robert chose to go I was going to back him. But I really like "Fatback" and I really think with the right tools to work with, we just weren't really able to give him all the tools to work with, he'll be good. He has a real good understanding of the aerodynamics, and we were able to go to the wind tunnel maybe one time since he's been here. It's just not enough time to develop things like he needs to. So he really hasn't had all the tools in the toolbox to work with. And now he's going to have everything he needs to have to work with. The knowledge they have, the knowledge of the existing guys on the 28 plus you've got Todd Parrott over there. I can't help but see good things come of it. Having a teammate like Dale Jarrett's caliber to bounce ideas off of, we found that at Talladega. We got there early in the week, and we went out and ran. The motor builders all talk among the teams, and the next thing you know they come down and change a couple of parts on the car and it takes off and runs better. To have that kind of a benefit, to have a teammate to bounce things off of, that's really neat." TAKE A LAP AROUND ROCKINGHAM. "It really depends if you are in race trim or qualifying trim. If you are in qualifying trim you put on the new tires and the cars stick pretty good for a couple of laps only. It is a real tire-dependent track for some reason. It's always seemed to have been that way. At the start/finish line you drive down into one, for a good go-fast lap you drive down in there, and generally you've gotta have a car fairly loose when you get down in the corner. I've had my best runs when I'm driving down in the corner, and when you are approaching the corner and as you're using the brakes the car is starting to pitch sideways a little bit as you get down in the corner. You're right on the edge of losing the car when you're doing that, but what happens is it gets the nose of the car pointed in the right direction so when you finally land and get in the center of the corner you're able to stand back in the gas and you're pointed in the right direction. So generally you've got to run one really loose there to get qualified good. Off the corner of turn two, the exit of turn two is quite a bit different than the exit of turn four. It's a real tight radius getting off of turn two. Generally the cars will break loose in qualifying and they'll start sliding, and usually you'll slide the back end of the car as you come out of the corner. With new tires you can drive through that for at least a lap. Where if you run three, four, five laps like that you can't get away with that for very long. But the fast way at Rockingham is to have the back end kicking loose with you as you come up on the backstretch. You drive off into turn three, and it's not much different the entry to turn three as it is then entry to turn one. The trick is to keep the car on the bottom of the race track and you get back on the accelerator real quick. If you do that then you'll get that momentum off of turn four that launches you back to the start/finish line with a good lap speed. In race trim it is quite a bit different. With new tires it's a similar deal except you don't run the car quite as loose. The whole objective is to get the car to run on the bottom where it's not bound up and you are able to get back on the accelerator to make long straight-aways out of it. You can do that for 15, 20 laps and then the tires start tending to go away and you start searching for a groove to run on. It's not unusual at Rockingham to drive in turn one or turn three right at the top of the race track. You'll see guys go at the bottom and you'll see them go in on the top. But generally after a restart for about 20 laps the preferred line is on the bottom. But it is a track that you can go to the top side of the racetrack and go pretty fast. You try to get the car to work on the bottom for as many laps as it will stay there, and then you go to the top of the racetrack. The guys that are able to keep their cars on the bottom of the racetrack the longest will generally be the cars that are the ones to beat."