Rudd forced out of race, loses ground in points
Updated: Monday August 06, 2001 12:06 AM
By Mike Fish, CNNSI.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- Climbing out of his car, Ricky Rudd could only shake his head and laugh.
This was a day the sun-drenched skies failed to bring good fortune. And if he comes up short in the Winston Cup points race, it'll be a day he won't forget.
He started the Brickyard 400 flush with enthusiasm about his chances of winning the thing. Instead, he rolled into the garage area late Sunday afternoon in 40th place, his No. 28 Ford having been derailed by something as fluky as a broken fan belt.
Worse, he shuffled back a spot to third in the point standings, now trailing Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon by 179 points. His racing teammate Dale Jarrett moved ahead of him by 19.
"You just cry little bit, pick up and go on," Rudd said. "This is probably one of the hardest hits you can take, coming to Indy and being one of the first cars out of the race."
Trouble for Rudd cropped up 21 laps into the 160-lap event, when his car lost power and ended up rolling into the pits. Rudd brought it back to the garage area before returning to the track, but he'd already lost precious time and laps.
Team owner Robert Yates said belts "stretched" after examining the car.
Rudd said it was a frustrating sequence of events triggered by a faulty fan belt.
"It came off and the water pump quit turning right away," Rudd said. "We ran about a lap like that, and it basically burned the motor up. No water was circulating.
"I can tell you, it's pretty rare. I never heard of it happening before. The first thing I knew is I lost all my power steering. I happened to look down at the water temp gauge and it was off the scale at the same time."
The tough part is Rudd liked his chances in the race.
"It's frustrating because we had a really fast car today," he said. "We hadn't shown our full hand yet because it wasn't time, ... We had a fast car and never had a chance to show it."