Rudd has had impressive rookie students

DARLINGTON, S.C. - On Friday, Sept. 1, at Darlington Raceway, Ricky Rudd will conduct his weekly NASCAR rookie meeting. Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford, is president of the Darlington Record Club this year and with that...

DARLINGTON, S.C. - On Friday, Sept. 1, at Darlington Raceway, Ricky Rudd will conduct his weekly NASCAR rookie meeting. Rudd, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford, is president of the Darlington Record Club this year and with that comes the leadership responsibility for the Friday morning rookie meetings. The Darlington Record Club is comprised of the fastest qualifiers each year at the Southern 500 from three car manufacturers -- Ford, Pontiac and Chevrolet. The lifelong club members nominate a new president annually. While Rudd presides over an impressive rookie class this year, he remembers a very special rookie from his 1985 Darlington rookie class when he was president. "Back then it was more than just a meeting," Rudd said. "The whole process included a practice session in which I would go on the roof and watch the rookies. "They had to reach a certain speed and I actually had the power to say which ones could race and which ones were not ready to race on the tough track." "I'll never forget. A.J. Foyt was in that rookie class at Darlington," said Rudd. "I had been driving for only a couple of years and here I was deciding if A.J. was good enough to run the race. "He had won four Indianapolis 500 races and seven Indy Car championships. He also had run some Winston Cup races but never at Darlington." Rudd did not keep Foyt out of that race and Foyt finished 25th in his only Southern 500 start. Rudd finished sixth that day. When Rudd calls his 2000 class together, he won't have a legend like A.J. Foyt as a student. He does however, have two of the most talented rookies of the year: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth. "The rookies now are much different than they used to be," said Rudd. "They have years of Busch Series experience and it's not like it used to be when a guy could come from anywhere to Winston Cup. "Now, they are pretty accomplished drivers once they get here. Not as accomplished as A.J. Foyt, but accomplished in their own right."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , A.J. Foyt