2007 Ride: No. 88 Yates Racing Ford – February to July; No. 88 Yates/Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Ford – July to November
2007 Primary Sponsor: Snickers
2007 Owner: Robert Yates
2007 Crew Chief: Butch Hylton
Stats: 31 races, zero wins, zero top fives, one top 10, 33rd in points.
High Point: In what turned out to be his only top-10 finish of the season, Rudd started and finished the Coca-Cola 600 in seventh place. A big gamble on fuel mileage allowed Rudd to be in the right place at the right time to gain track position, while other drivers had to pit for a splash of gas to make it to the finish.
“I was having to save gas so much the last couple of laps,” Rudd said. “We obviously didn’t have a winning car, but we knew we had a top-12, top-15 car.”
Low Point: Rudd celebrated his 900th Nextel Cup Series start in the Sharp Aquos 500 at the California Speedway. Unfortunately, that start was marred by two different accidents. The second accident on lap 181 saw Rudd caught up in a six-car pile-up that took him out of the race. Rudd separated his shoulder in that crash and ended up missing five races before returning to the No. 88 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in mid-October.
Summary: While Rudd didn’t have a spectacular season, he started on the outside pole for the Daytona 500, and in a race that was slowed by seven cautions, he still finished on the lead lap in 26th. He led just 11 laps on the season, one at Lowe’s in May and 10 at Texas in November; however, he did finish 96.6% of the laps run in his 31 starts. In all, though, his experience was a disappointment after rejoining a Yates team he took to three consecutive top-10 finishes in the point standings from 2000-02.
2008 Outlook: Rudd will not be returning to the No. 88 in 2008. Instead, Yates/Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing will field the No. 28 for Travis Kvapil, who is moving up from the Craftsman Truck Series. While Rudd has not ruled out the possibility of racing part-time, he says he has no plans to race full-time again.
2006 Frontstretch Grade: N/A
2007 Grade: C-
Editor’s Note: The 2007 season is over, and even the Final Chase exam has come to a close – which means it’s time to give each driver their annual year-end evaluation. For the second straight year, your favorite Frontstretch staff members are giving driver reviews for every full-time wheelman on the circuit, giving you insight into the seasons of anyone from AJ Allmendinger to JJ Yeley.