This week Ricky Rudd, driver of the #21 Ford Genuine Parts and Service Taurus, answers his fans' questions regarding the new Ford engine, 1.5-mile tracks, the new NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point system, race radio driver/team communications and television coverage of the series.

Click here for information about the July 9-11 NASCAR weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

Question: Do you think that having the new cylinder heads might somewhat offset the aero disadvantage that the Fords have at tracks like this?

"Well, I'm not really sure about the aero disadvantage that Ford has right now. It doesn't look like any Ford has been a dominant car on that type of track. Horsepower anywhere you go is an asset, but it can be a detriment sometimes, too. If you can't control it, it causes tire spin. I'm a competitor that feels, give me all the horsepower you can and we'll figure out a way to get it to the ground. Chicago is the kind of race track that has long straightaways. It is similar to Michigan in that respect. Motor will show up there where at some of the other places it won't show up as much. But at Chicago you will be able to sense it. And, I'm really looking forward to going to Pocono. There is a place that really shows up power in the straightaway. But at Chicago you will be able to see it also."

Question: Chicago has been looked at as a cookie-cutter track to Las Vegas. How does the track compare to Las Vegas?

"They all sort of run together after a while. I have a difficult time distinguished Kansas and Chicago. They are very similar. The layout of the garages and motor home lot are similar. If you wake up and they spin you around, without reading the writing on the wall, you wouldn't know where you were. To me, Vegas is somewhat similar, but on a smaller scale. It is not quite the same. They drive a little different."

Question: Will you be using the new Ford engine at Chicagoland?

"I don't know. I think they are so busy trying to get new parts and pieces together that they don't actually have a head count of who gets the engine until close to race time because it is a phase-in process that is going on right now." What do you think of the make up of the final 10 races in the season? "I never really thought about it too hard. The rules are what they are and NASCAR decides it so we there's no use in looking at it too much. I've never been a big fan of the point system. I think the ones that are going to come out on the short end are the sponsors. They pay so much and car owners are having a harder and harder time finding one. I think it is going to be a 36-race schedule for some and a 26-race schedule for others. I'm afraid the sponsors are going to step up and say you ran 26 races, and I'm going to pay you for 26, not 36. I think they opened a can of worms by doing this."

Question: During a race, do you think about the fans listening to you, your spotter, and crew chief via the scanner?

The professionalism exhibited this year over the air made me proud to be a Rudd fan. "It gets hard at times. The radio is our communication back and forth between the driver and the team. You sort of forget that everybody is listening in. You get some heated moments, and you are not really aware of that. Some of the teams have gone so far as to scramble the channels. I think the fans should be able to listen, but it is definitely not good for kids to listen in at certain times. But, 99 and nine-tenths of the time our stuff is pretty clean. Occasionally, tensions are running high during a race and words sometimes can fly that maybe you wish hadn't. But you are not really aware that people listen in."

Question: Do you watch the rerun of the race on TV during the week?

If so, what do you think

of the commentators, and how well they cover each driver during the race? "I don't watch the races most of the time. I got into it a little bit a couple years ago when I made some comments that were taken out of context. I was trying to say, 'Give credit where credit is do.' And sometimes I think they (the commentators) make up the race as they go. But to give you an overall opinion of what they are doing, I haven't watched enough races to really tell you these guys are doing a great job or not. I believe the biggest complaint I hear is that if you are not one of the top three or four cars they skip over you. It doesn't matter what driver you follow, if they are not at the top that day, unless you are Earnhardt Junior, you don't get mentioned that day. What I do like is the qualifying show. I watch qualifying a lot and I like the way they do the segments for qualifying."

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