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Long's Call Sends Rudd to Victory lane

5 August 1997


CHARLOTTE, NC - With the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
coming down to the final laps, the leaders ducked down pit road for a
final fuel stop during the fifth caution period.

Ricky Rudd just watched them go.

Crew chief Jim Long took the gamble that the Tide Ford could go the
distance on fuel. That gamble paid off with a $571,000 pay day for
Rudd and the biggest win of his career. It also helped Long grab his
third RCA Pit Strategy Award of the season. Long will be awarded a
check for $5,000 and the RCA mascot Nipper during pre-race ceremonies
this weekend at Watkins Glen.

It was at Dover in June that Long elected to keep Rudd on the track
late in the race rather than take on fresh rubber like everyone else
that gave Rudd his first win of the season, and extended his winning
streak to 15 straight years with at least one victory. That also
earned Long his first RCA award of the year.

Rudd, who won twice in the same season for the first time since 1987,
had not led the race all day and most didn't view him as much of a
factor. His lap times had been as quick as the leaders all day, but
Rudd said his car wouldn't handle in traffic.

"I would come up on a lapped car and I wouldn't even be able to pass a
lapped car," Rudd said. "The car would get so radically tight in the
front end that it wouldn't turn."

But Long was keeping a close eye on track position and mileage.

"We had tried to save and pinch and everything else," Rudd said. "But
you ride around under caution and you've got twice or three times the
fuel economy. The guys were saying don't work the accelerator, just
let it idle and don't abuse the throttle, just leave it in a tall gear
and let it chug along. "It was really a borderline, iffy situation if
we could make it, but it was just close enough that we were going to
roll the dice and go for it."

Rudd was helped by one more caution on Lap 155 of the 160-lap race.

"When it was a green-flag deal it was a big gamble," Long said. "But
it's the biggest race of the year besides the Daytona 500. Man, it's
worth it. We knew everybody else had to come in, so it was great. We
slowed down a little bit. We could run with them all day, but we
couldn't pass anybody.

"This is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me, besides
getting married."

Long has become a master at pit strategy, even when a top-five finish
seems out of reach.

After struggling all weekend and using a provisional to make the field
for the California 500, Long gambled on two-tire stops and a late
gas-and-go to give Rudd a third-place finish from his 39th starting
position to win his second Nipper dog.

Long is now tied with Terry Labonte's crew chief Gary DeHart for the
lead in the chase for the $50,000 year-end RCA Pit Strategy
Award. They lead a group of five crew chiefs with two awards apiece.

By RCA Racing Public Relations