Rookies reap rewards under Rudd's instructions

CHARLOTTE, NC -- Driving race cars is not Ricky Rudd's only talent; he is also adept at helping others drive race cars. This year, Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford Taurus, is instructing the weekly rookie driver's ...

CHARLOTTE, NC -- Driving race cars is not Ricky Rudd's only talent; he is also adept at helping others drive race cars. This year, Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford Taurus, is instructing the weekly rookie driver's meetings held on the first day of practice each race week. Rudd explains to the rookies difficulties unique to certain tracks and advises them how to handle those obstacles. "The Winston Cup format is different than other forms of racing. An example of what we talk about is how drivers try to work together in practice sessions," said Rudd. "At certain tracks you come in off the banking to enter pit road, and at other tracks you start driving into pit road on the backstretch, so it's more of an informative thing and putting them in the driver's seat on what to look out for and the hazards of all the different race tracks." Learning the particulars of each race track helps rookies prevent mistakes that may happen without the useful tidbits Rudd provides. Stacy Compton, driver of the No. 9 Kodiak/Cougar Ford appreciates the simple advice from Rudd, such as what turns to watch out for or when to be single file. Compton said, "Things like that have sped up my learning curve and kept me from doing something stupid. "You learn. The first time out there you learn, but with Ricky giving us some insight, a lot of times you don't have to learn the hard way." Rudd said the rookies are good, attentive students, but they still have fun while learning. After Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won The Winston, Rudd jokingly said to Earnhardt, Jr. and the class, "We've got the wrong guy instructing. You're the instructor for the day." The students are gaining some valuable advice and respect Rudd as a teacher. Scott Pruett, driver of the No. 32 Tide Ford said, "Ricky's been great and he's a great person for the job, too. He's real open and very helpful, so with that comes the comfort to ask questions and get guidance. "For a guy like myself who is so new to all of this, just learning things like traffic flow in and out of the garage, getting around the track, stuff that is totally foreign to me as to how I used to do it, is invaluable." Rudd is this year's instructor because he is the current president of the Darlington Record Club. Drivers earn entry into the club by being the fastest qualifier for their respective car manufacturer each year for the Southern 500 race at Darlington Raceway. Rudd enjoys using his experience to help the rookies, but he understands they are already good at what they do. "It's just helpful information," said Rudd. "It's not to tell them how to drive a race car because they know how to do that."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Scott Pruett