Originally created 05/14/05

Rudd retirement could clear up room for rookie



RICHMOND, Va. - Jon Wood's success on the NASCAR Busch Series circuit has put veteran driver Ricky Rudd in a tough spot.

Rudd, 48, doesn't know whether he wants to follow Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin into retirement from the Nextel Cup Series or stick around for his 32nd season in the sport. When he leaves, the team seems ready to hire Wood, who is 10th in the Busch Series standings during his rookie season.

When Rudd retires, he said he won't do it like Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott, who are making selected starts at tracks they enjoy. He also won't do it like Wallace and Martin with a year-long farewell tour.

"I think in this sport, you're either in it 100 percent or you're out of it," Rudd told the Roanoke Times.

He considers farewell tours as a way to squeeze money out of fans.

"I've always been low profile," he said. "I came into this sport low profile, and I imagine I'll leave on a low-profile basis."

Rudd, who holds the NASCAR record with 762 consecutive starts heading into tonight's Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway, works for Wood Brothers Racing. Jon Wood is the son of car owner Eddie Wood.

Eddie Wood said there are no plans to create a second team for his son. At the same time, he didn't say what to expect if Rudd retires and the team sticks with its single-car operation.

HALL OF FAME: The list of cities in contention for the NASCAR Hall of Fame shrank to four Friday when Detroit dropped out of the race.

In the past week Michigan and Daytona Beach, Fla., have pulled back their bids. Michigan organizers said the expected $100 million price tag was too much; the Florida Legislature last week did not approve $30 million in public funding for the Daytona Beach project.

That leaves Charlotte, N.C.; Kansas City; and Atlanta as the front-runners and Richmond, Va., as a longshot.

The hall is expected to add $100 million per year in local revenues. Remaining cities are required to have their final bids to NASCAR by the end of the month, and the sanctioning body is expected to announce a winner by the end of summer.

CHANGES AT SPEED: Chris Long joined Speed Channel as the new vice president of studio production, and he wasted no time in making big changes at the racing network.

First, he scaled back NASCAR Nation from an hour to 30 minutes, starting June 27. He said the show was supposed to be like Extra or Entertainment Tonight for the racing circuit, but it's become more of a news show. Not only will the format change, but anchors Krista Voda and Ralph Sheheen also will be off the show, Long said.

Kasey Kahne climbs out of his car after winning the pole for today's Chevy American Revolution 400 Nextel Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Friday.