CHARLOTTE — He is racing's Mr. Consistency. But until Sunday at Martinsville, Ricky Rudd's 1998 races produced more trouble than success.
"It's definitely been the toughest season I can remember in a long, long time," Rudd said. "It seems like we've had nothing but trouble. I don't think there's been a single race where we've run in the top three all day."
Martinsville was the first track where Rudd felt, for the first time all season, that he was behind the wheel of a car that could win. Exhausted from the heat, Rudd stayed the course not only winning against all odds, but continuing a remarkable streak. He has now won races in 16 straight seasons.
"It's getting harder and harder as the years go by. I had given up on this year," Rudd said. "We just hadn't run as competitively as in years past. It's not easy with all these multi-car teams. It's just tough to compete against their incredible resources. It just gets harder and harder."
Rudd's victory at Martinsville won him the admiration of not only fans but fellow drivers. This year is still well below the standard Rudd has set for himself; he has had three top ten finishes in the points race in four seasons as an owner-driver. However, the win and the streak are one bigger upper for a team trying to get better by 1999.