Lost Marbles: Ricky Rudd's Martinsville scorcher

Did you know that The Marbles has been around since NASCAR's beginnings? It's true!* And we've just recently come across a treasure trove of old Marbles posts from days gone by! Check out what was being said right here during the greatest moments in NASCAR history, only on Lost Marbles! Today, we're taking a look back at what we wrote during a particularly warm Martinsville day in 1998 ...

A lot of us thought that Ricky Rudd's victory streak was a goner. Heck, he wasn't having a very good year. His highest finish until today was sixth!

But somehow, someway, Ricky won. He had to lay down in victory lane because he was so exhausted. Something malfunctioned in the cockpit, but Rudd carried on despite having burns on his butt and legs. That man is a trooper, and he's now won a Winston Cup race for 16 straight years.

A lot of you would sacrifice some skin for a Winston Cup win, right? And Ricky is our ironman. He hasn't missed a race since the start of the 1981 season. A couple of burns weren't going to make that streak go away. Rudd did think about hopping out, however, and the team had Hut Stricklin available as a relief driver, but Ricky thought better of it and stayed in the car.

Rudd started second and quickly showed that he had one of the cars to beat despite his butt being almost on fire. He took the lead on lap 15, which obviously didn't hurt his desire to stay in the car.

Sterling Marlin led the most laps and dominated the middle portion of the race, but gave up the lead on lap 391 and had a mechanical failure on lap 420 and finished four laps down.

Rudd exhibited why short track racing is king in NASCAR and will continue to be. The amount of talent and effort that it takes to wheel one of these cars around this demanding paperclip is immeasurable, and proves that great drivers can still shine in their 40s once in a while. If I was making the NASCAR schedule I'd add more short track races. It's the great equalizer in Winston Cup, and the best drivers always find their way to the front.

*-Nope, still not true.

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