Old Man Ruttman Fastest In Chicago

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CHICAGO –- Joe Ruttman does everything slower these days… well, almost everything.

Ruttman, 56, is the elder statesman of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and although his steps are slower and his tongue is drier, he can still pull out the fast lap and wins some poles.

His 117.612 mph run topped qualifying for the Sears Craftsman 175 at Chicago Motor Speedway, but the younger Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch, who qualified second and third respectively, weren’t too far behind.

Biffle put out a 117.348 mph run, followed by Busch’s 116.830 mph speed. Andy Houston qualified fourth, followed by Mike Wallace.

If you ask the wiry, sharp-tongued Busch, Ruttman might as well move to Florida and retire. But that’s just part of the game.

"The great thing about the Truck Series is you have a wide diversity of drivers out here racin’ every week," said Busch, a 22-year-old rookie who is expected to make the jump to Winston Cup soon. "You have guys like me who are getting their start and then guys like Ruttman who are just looking to pad their retirement fund."

If Ruttman is, in fact, padding his savings for that condo on the beach in Del Boca Vista, he is doing a nice job generating the funds this season. His seven top-five finishes and two wins this season put him in the top-ten in points, but far enough away from the points lead that allows him to have fun on the track.

"I am just out here trying to win poles and win some races," he said. "I’m just having a good time and relaxing and letting these kids know I can still race. I’m not like these young kids out here. When the green flag drops for them they're just crazy out there, bumpin into each other, and I just let them do their thing."

Although Ruttman calls them "crazy," Biffle knows he needs to play it safe in the race if he wants to win the championship this year.

"I just need to finish the race," said Biffle, who tops the points standings with five wins and 14 top-five finishes. "If I run toward the back, pit well and don’t be too aggressive and then finish in the top ten or so I will be in great shape for the rest of the five races to win this championship. If I get up front and do some bumpin and try to be too aggressive I may go out early and you don’t win championships finishing 35th or something like that."

Busch, although just a rookie, seems to have a two-prong approach to win the race.

"Winning is about keeping consistent on the lap times," he said. "If I go out and stay close to the speed and time I posted on the last lap I think I’ll be fine. That, and do everything Greg does."

"Well, you say that now, but once you get out there in the race you forget it all and you’ll be runnin’ crazy like all the others," Ruttman joked. "And you’ll probably still finish better than me."

"Well, that’s true… I will finish better than you," said Busch, smiling like he’s proud to beat the master tongue at his own game.

But for Ruttman the game isn’t quite over.

Race Center

Nextera Energy Resources 250

@ Daytona International Speedway
Friday, February 20, 2015
Radio Start:
MRN, 7 p.m. (ET)
TV Start:
FOX Sports 1

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