NASCAR & Auto Racing

Rudd: Racing life can take its toll

Ricky Rudd will make his 900th career start in Sunday’s Sharp Aquos 500 at California Speedway, another milestone in a career that’s coming to an end.

Rudd will retire, at least from full-time Nextel Cup competition, after the 2007 season. As he begins to reflect on things, Rudd said he believes that racing increasingly will become a sport for younger people.

“Life cooped up in a motor home five days a week is not an ideal situation for kids,” said Rudd, driver of the No. 88 Fords.

“It’s sort of forcing the kids to take on our lifestyle. ...So, you start weighing the plusses and the minuses. When you’re competitive it’s sort of a fix for some of the negatives of the sport.

“...I think you’ll see guys come in at 18 and probably leave when they’re in their early 30s, mid-30s max. Then they’ll still have a chance to have a family life after that.”

One of Rudd’s former crew chiefs, Michael McSwain, told the Wood Brothers this week that he won’t be back as crew chief on the No. 21 Fords in Nextel Cup next season.

McSwain may take another role, but if he does he said it would be one that doesn’t have him on the road and away from his family as much.