olympics        <h3 class=McDermott: Claypool 'on A Mission Right Now'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ricky Rudd was clearing away leaves by his pool when he got an anonymous text message that he might want to make the 20-minute drive south to Charlotte -- quickly.

Rudd knew right away that he was finally getting into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in his eighth year on the ballot.

The tough-as-nails driver from Virginia was selected as part of the Class of 2025 on Tuesday along with driver Carl Edwards and mechanic and race strategist Ralph Moody, who made it in on the pioneer ballot.

They will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame in January at a ceremony Feb. 7.

"You don't think about the Hall of Fame when you're racing," Rudd said. "But after you retire and drift away from the sport there is a little bit more importance. ... I always tried to make sure I was in town on this day just in case got a phone call."

Dr. Dean Sicking, who is credited with creating the SAFER barrier after being commissioned by NASCAR to make racing safer following the death of Dale Earnhardt at Daytona in 2001, was selected as the Landmark Award winner for his contributions to the sport.

Rudd was one of the few successful driver-owners in the modern era, having won 23 races during his 32-year racing career and 29 poles.

The 67-year-old Rudd held the Cup Series record for consecutive starts with 788 before Jeff Gordon broke the record in 2015.

A permanent fixture on race weekends, Rudd started 906 Cup races, second only to Richard Petty's 1,185. He finished in the top five 194 times and 374 times in the top 10, and won a Cup race in 16 consecutive seasons from 1983-98.

Rudd said he always looked up to drivers like A.J Foyt, Richard Petty and Bobby and Donnie Allison because of their toughness.

"I did some things that maybe some guys wouldn't do getting back into the car when some guys might would have sat out a race or two," Rudd said. "But I didn't feel like I did it any different than the group in front of me. Those guys were tough."

The 1977 Cup Series rookie of the year, Rudd went on to win six races for the Rudd Performance Motorsports team he operated from 1994-99, including the 1997 Brickyard 400.

The 44-year-old Edwards' career included 72 career wins across the NASCAR's three racing series, including 28 in Cup Series racing -- most of which were capped by a celebratory backflip.

His success on the Truck Series success earned him full-time rides in both the Cup and Xfinity Series in 2005.

He broke onto the big scene by winning his first races in each series during an early season weekend sweep at Atlanta Motor Speedway and became a popular budding star in the sport. He won the Xfinity Series championship in 2007 and amassed 38 wins over seven full seasons at that level.

Edwards won the Coca Cola 600, Southern 500 in 2015 and was the Cup Series championship runner-up twice, including the closest finish in NASCAR history when he lost by tiebreaker in 2011.

Edwards was not at the announcement at the Hall of Fame in Charlotte, and was not able to be reached for interviews.

Moody drove a tank under the command of General George S. Patton in World War II, then moved moved to Florida in 1949 so he could race year round. He did in 1982.

Moody paired with business-minded John Holman to form Holman-Moody Racing in 1957, the beginning of a powerhouse NASCAR team.

They competed from 1957-73 winning championships with David Pearson in 1968 and 1969 and won the 1976 Daytona 500 with Mario Andretti in 1967. Among those who drover cars owned by Holman-Moody Racing include NASCAR Hall of Famers Joe Weatherly, Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison and Pearson.

Sicking is credited with saving a lot of lives because of the SAFER barrier.

He went on to study each track's incident history and helped implement a plan to cover the most dangerous areas immediately. All NASCAR national series race tracks currently feature SAFER barriers.

The 66-year-old Sicking was named winner of the Bill France Award of Excellence in 2003 and was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President George W. Bush in 2005.

Olympics 2024 In Paris France
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