Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rudd, Bodine Encouraged

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rudd, Bodine Encouraged

Article excerpt

While Jeff Gordon was cutting into Dale Earnhardt's points lead

with a second consecutive Winston Cup victory last Sunday at

Pocono, a couple of Ford-powered owner-drivers were dueling for

their best finishes of the year.

Ricky Rudd and Geoff Bodine trailed Gordon under the checkered

flag, finishing second and third, respectively.

"This run at Pocono was by far the best run we've had all

season," said Rudd, after posting just his second top-five

finish of the year.

While Rudd hasn't yet found his way to victory lane this

season, something he's managed to do at least once in each of

the last 13 seasons, he's stayed in the thick of the points

chase with five top-10 runs. The 20-year Winston Cup veteran,

who has finished among the top 10 in points in 14 of the last 15

seasons, is currently fifth; 244 points off Earnhardt's lead.

"Based on determination and drive, I'd have to give everybody

on this Rudd Racing team an A for effort, but probably for

results, I'd say a C," Rudd said. "We've been right there in the

points chase all season, but as far as on-track performance, we

haven't been where we need to be. We feel like we've made great

strides the last two weeks."

As strides go, Bodine's third-place finish looked more like a

leap of faith.

"We threw everything we knew at that race," said Bodine, who

scored his best finish since lapping the field at North

Wilkesboro in 1994 en route to his last victory.

"It felt really good to be competitive and racing again, and I

plan to do a lot more of that," said Bodine, who is still

recovering from last season's divorce that, "almost destroyed my

career and my business. That [finish] is like a transfusion for

us. If you need a transfusion and you don't get it, you die. We

needed this."

Both Rudd and Bodine, who have 33 Winston Cup victories between

them, will be looking for continued success today in the Miller

400 at Michigan, where they'll be among eight active drivers

with victories at the Roger Penske-owned track.

PONTIAC BY A NOSE -- Based on Bobby Hamilton's pole-qualifying

run Friday, at least one of the Pontiac teams must be pleased

with the new nose piece the GM manufacturer had approved for

today's race. …

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