ATLANTA - With all the good rides now filled for 2006, Ricky Rudd said he will walk away from stock-car racing when the season ends Nov. 20 at Homestead, Fla.
Rudd was holding out to drive the No. 2 Dodge at Penske Racing South if Kurt Busch couldn't win an early release from his contract at Roush Racing.
When he got that release Monday, it meant Rudd could do what he wanted all along - retire.
"I have not taken a vacation or sick day in nearly 30 years of racing, and with my contract with the Wood Brothers expiring at the end of this race season, it seemed like the perfect time to step back and take a break," Rudd said.
"I especially want to thank the fans. Without them, none of this would be possible, and their support for this sport and for me have made it all very worthwhile and have kept me going for many years. I feel their energy and support every time I am around them."
Ken Schrader, 50, will drive for the Woods next year before turning over the keys in 2007.
CHASING CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Chase for the Championship has pumped so much interest into the Nextel Cup Series, drivers in the Busch and Craftsman Truck circuits would like the playoff in their divisions, too.
"The more I think about where this team's future lies, the more I think we need a playoff or a Chase in the truck series, too," truck racer Brandon Whitt said. "I know some people have said they don't want our series to go that way, but when you see the response they have received in the Cup series with it you have to think it would work with the trucks too.
"Some of the best racing going on in motorsports right now is the truck series, and anything we can do to get more people to watch it the better off we are all going to be. We can take what is a pretty good idea - the Chase for the Championship - and tweak it to be a pretty neat deal, different enough to bring new fans to truck racing."
NASCAR chairman Brian France, however, said he likes the idea of separating the Nextel Cup series from Busch and trucks.
For that, he said he wouldn't vote to bring the playoffs to the lower divisions.
COMING CLEAN: A county judge said the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Central Atlanta Progress can't keep secret their bid for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Judge Michael Johnson said since public money was used to prepare the bid, it must be made public. Atlanta is one of five finalists for the hall.