Ricky Rudd, 48, isn't like many of the other veterans on the Nextel Cup Series. He's not thinking about retiring and he feels the Wood Brothers Racing team is on the right track to returning to Victory Lane.
Rudd talked about the progress at Wood Brothers and his future in the sport.
Question: If you could change the new points system, what would you do?
Rudd: I don't know. This is quite a difference from what we've had over the years. I don't know that I would change anything. I sit back and watch this top-10 cutoff and you feel left out of the Chase, but we had an equal chance to get in there like everybody else. We just didn't get it done. We weren't even close to getting it done when the cutoff mark came. All we can do is regroup and prepare for next year. I'm kind of waiting to see how this thing unfolds. If you can make that top 10, it's anybody's guess as to who can win the thing. I've finished in the top 10 in points 19 times in my career, and I'm looking back and, certainly with those percentages and odds, we would have won some championships along the way, if we were going by the new system. So, let's wait and see how it works out. I guess if we make the top-10 cutoff next year, then I'll be a fan of it.
Question: Will you write an autobiography of your life?
Rudd: I've had several people approach me about it, and I'm not saying that I won't do it, but maybe at some other time. I'm not ready to do that just yet.
Question: You son, Landon, designed a paint scheme for your car. Any thoughts of doing that again?
Rudd: I really liked that. I like that the sponsor, Motorcraft, gave us the freedom to do that. I didn't realize all that was going on at the time. It was a neat deal the way the whole thing unfolded and then surprising me on Totally NASCAR. That was a special moment and I know he got really excited about it. I think that is almost like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because so much goes into that. For a sponsor to give you that kind of opportunity is really nice. To have them give it twice I don't think that would happen.
Question: Do you fly your own airplane to and from the track?
Rudd: I'm a multi-engine pilot. I'm licensed to fly piston-engine, twin-engine airplanes. I used to fly quite a bit. Now I just fly the twin-engine plane. I've got a lot of time flying the King Air, a King Air 300, which is a turboprop plane. I'm not licensed to fly the jet. I'd have to go to the same school our captain went to. It's a 14-day school to get certified. The requirement hours I've got that. I just have to go to school. I keep saying each year I'm going to go and get my license, and each year I kind of enjoy the little vacation time that we get. Fourteen days in school would be pretty intense training. I kind of use that time to clear my head, but maybe one day. We've got really professional guys flying us and I've learned a lot flying with them. The school is pretty intense, and right now I want to spend that time with my family.
Question: Do you have drivers in your family who are interested in racing?
Rudd: I've got a nephew that has as much talent as probably anybody I've seen out there. He's in his early to mid-20s right now. He's got a super amount of talent, but he doesn't have the backing to get any further than what he has. I guess it is not about what you know, but who you know. They've spent all the money they can. He just hasn't gotten a break. I guess his best finish was second in an ARCA race about two years ago out in Kansas. He's got a lot of talent, but he hasn't been out there. It's kind of a Catch 22. You need to be out there running every week to be recognized, and they don't have the budget to do that and hasn't really been lucky enough to find a sponsor to keep him going. I'd like to be able to help him, but we spent quite a bit of money to keep our own team going, and you can't do it on the amount of money we've got. I'll put it that way.
Question: With the marked improvement since (crew chief) Michael "Fatback" McSwain and (engineer) Hoyt Overbagh joined the team, what kind of realistic goals do you have for the 2005 season?
Rudd: I look sort of at the before-Fatback era and the after-Fatback era. I've seen two different reports if we erased everything and started from zero when he showed up, we'd either be seventh in the points or 10th in the points. Again, I've seen two different reports. Our average finishes have been steady enough to keep us in the top 10 in points. And our goal, and I think it is a very realistic goal, and we are going to have to work hard for it, but I feel like top 10 in the points at the cutoff point is not impossible. I think it is a realistic goal. I look at the point system that if you make it to the top 10, the way it unfolded this year anybody can win it. The guy that has the least amount of problems, accidents, attritions from motors or whatever, I think if you make the top-10 cutoff, it's anybody's guess at that point. I hate to predict championships, but we've got to get to that top 10, and I think that is realistic. It's going to be hard, but I feel it is realistic.
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