Ricky Rudd: "I wouldn't want to run a road course every weekend, but I wouldn't mind seeing one or two more on the schedule." Ricky Rudd, driver of the ...
Ricky Rudd: "I wouldn't want to run a road course every weekend, but I wouldn't mind seeing one or two more on the schedule."
Ricky Rudd, driver of the #21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus, and team co-owner Eddie Wood answer fans' questions on road-course racing, testing, green/yellow flag starts and Ford's new Fusion race car, which will be on the track starting in 2006.
Ricky, I know that you are really good on road races. Do you like them the best too? Ricky Rudd: "I have fun when I go road racing. I like them. I wouldn't want to run a road course every weekend, but I wouldn't mind seeing one or two more on the schedule. I like them because it sort of breaks up the regular routine, and we've had good luck on them over the years."
Do you shift with the JERICO transmission? If so, do you have to shift for the whole race? "I haven't run a JERICO. There is a T101 that we've used over the years. We're running a different one now, but I think it comes from the same company. The last time we ran at Sonoma it was the first time I'd run that gear box and I really liked it."
Are taking the car you had at Sonoma to Watkins Glen? "Yes."
What has been the most exciting race you have ever been in and why? "Gosh, that's hard to say. I don't think I could pick out just one."
Could you explain the rules on testing and why NASCAR only allows limited testing. How do you choose which tracks to test at. "I'm not sure the number of dates because this year is a little different. It has been broken up into one-day tests and two-day tests. As a driver, I'd like to test at every race track before we went there, but obviously that many test dates are not allowed. The original limit that was put on testing was put in place to save the car owners money. You use $20,000 to $30,000 worth of tires at a test, so the original concept was to save money. But, I believe it has created a big separation between the multi-car teams and the single-car teams because the bigger teams can test at every track with one of their cars. That is a big advantage being able to bring that test data back to the shop. Team members that are at the test, even if it isn't their team, can be there hands-on and go back and share information with their team, so that is a huge advantage. I'd really like to see each organization be treated as a single unit and be given seven tests or whatever we get. That would really even things up."
Do the Wood Brothers share data when Jon tests his Busch car? "I don't know if that is quite the same. Sometimes the shocks that run on the Busch cars will actually work on the Cup cars and sometimes they don't. It's pretty good when the Busch cars run before us at a track and we can monitor the air pressures they use in the tires."
Have you ever spotted for Jon Wood or worked with him on what to do at certain tracks? "Not really. Jon has never asked me for anything and if he hasn't asked me I don't want to go and stick my nose in his business. He has done a pretty good job on his own. The Busch cars drive a little different, and I'm sure he's got guys on the Busch side that he talks to."
Would you consider helping out children and teenagers with your vast racing experience and knowledge? I believe some of the more experienced racers who retire are a wealth of knowledge that young racer could benefit from. "I enjoy seeing kids at an early age. I enjoy watching kids in the go-karts. You can see natural talent come through as early as nine or 10 years old. When you carry that to a higher division, it'll separate some of them out, but you can see the natural talent at a very early age. But, that does interest me somewhat - working with young kids."
Eddie, I was at the Loudon race that started with the green/yellow flag. This has happened several times in the past and I wonder why the green has to drop if the track is not ready to race? Can you explain NASCAR's reason for this? Eddie Wood: "Most of the time when they do it, it is a situation they know they've got a window that they can get the race in, so if they lose eight or 10 laps in the beginning, it will still start an official race so the fans will not have to come back the next day."
Are you excited about the new Ford Fusion race car? what goes into deciding what car a company wants to run in NASCAR? why not put a cool car like the Mustang in? Chevy and Dodge have sporty cool cars and Ford has just another family sedan in NASCAR again. "Because they can is the first reason. The Mustang is not an approved-size vehicle for NEXTEL Cup. NASCAR has a specific size vehicle you have to have, and the Mustang doesn't fit the templates that have been developed. The Fusion is really no different from the Taurus. The road car is somewhat different. We saw it at the unveiling in Charlotte, and it is a pretty cool car. It is a fresh look, fresh design. I think it well do well as a product car and on the track. But, there isn't a whole lot of difference from the Taurus as far as the race car. The nose and tail are a little different and so is the hood. The performance of the car will probably be a little better. The way NASCAR makes you submit the car - they have a certain number you have to hit in the wind tunnel for downforce before they will ever allow it to run, and we hit it spot on. Then it has to go to the race track. And, that is what we did last week. We took the submission car to Atlanta. It was required to make a certain speed or time, and it did that, too. If anything, the Fusion will be a little better for us. But, it can't be a ton better because NASCAR won't allow it to be. You are in a box. The look of the car is really cool. It has the look of the Fusion with the grill and all. I think it will be real identifiable on the race track."