Rudd's career took a turn twenty years ago

<pre> CONCORD, N.C. - The NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 5, 1980, was a turning point in Ricky Rudd's career. The fourth-place finish 20 years ago set Rudd on course to becoming one of the series' ...

<pre> CONCORD, N.C. - The NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 5, 1980, was a turning point in Ricky Rudd's career. The fourth-place finish 20 years ago set Rudd on course to becoming one of the series' biggest stars. The driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford now looks back fondly on how he arrived at that point in his career. "Prior to that race, we ran a limited schedule with our family's car," Rudd said. "We were about finished - out of money, out of time and just about out of racing. "Linda and I moved from Virginia to Charlotte. She got a job selling tickets at the speedway. We got an apartment in Kannapolis and I worked on our one race car in a little shop next to the speedway. That was in the building that is now the Simpson building on the corner of Morehead and route 29." Rudd was virtually down to his last opportunity for his fledgling operation when he got a visit from veteran crew chief Harry Hyde. "Harry stopped by and he was not doing anything for the Charlotte race," Rudd said. "He looked at what I had going on and offered to help. With Harry being out of work, I guess it was just good timing. "He sent one of his guys over to help me work on the car. It was Jimmy Makar, who is now crew chief for Bobby Labonte. "We had one old worn out engine and Harry took it over to his shop where he had another of his guys work on it. That was Randy Dorton, who is now the head engine builder at Hendrick Motorsports. "Jimmy and I worked on the car while Harry and Randy worked on the engine. Looking at it now, it was an all-star team." With no testing, the team went to the track and qualified second. Rudd raced near the front all day and finished fourth. Rudd won $15,350 that day, but the next day he quickly realized that the strong performance was worth more than that. "That Monday morning, the phone was ringing off the hook," Rudd said. "Everyone wanted me to drive for them. I went from nothing to nearly everything." Rudd ended up taking a ride with the DiGard Racing Team in 1981 where he first worked with his current team owner, Robert Yates. Twenty years later, Rudd, in his first year driving for Yates, is enjoying one of his best years. He is sixth in the point standing and enters Sunday's UAW-GM 500 on a string of seven top-10 finishes.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Robert Yates
Teams Hendrick Motorsports