The way Joe Ruttman saw it, he had two choices: Get back into racing or get a real job.
It didn’t take him long to decide.
“To face the reality of working at my age, what would I be, a greeter at Sam’s or Wal-Mart?” the 62-year-old Ruttman asked Tuesday.
He’ll return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on April 28 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.
Ruttman will drive the same truck in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 that the late Bobby Hamilton, a longtime friend and Ruttman’s former employer, took to the 2004 trucks title.
“I’m sure everyone’s looking at me going, ‘You know, you’ve been out of the sport. You’re getting older. Your reflexes, your eyesight, your …,’ but that just gives me more incentive to prove everyone wrong,” Ruttman said. “As long as I have my health and as long as I have my desire, I don’t see why I can’t do that.”
Ruttman, who drove in his first Cup race in 1963, has not raced since Sept. 13, 2002.
But he’s already the only driver to win a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race after his 50th birthday. In fact, he earned all 13 of his truck wins after turning 50. His last two wins came in 2001.
Matsuura gladly returns home
Kosuke Matsuura hasn’t done a whole lot of leading this IndyCar Series season, but that changed when he arrived in his native Japan two weeks in advance of Sunday’s Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi.
“This is my home race so everybody is chasing me,” Matsuura said. “The Indy 500 is the biggest race for most drivers. Motegi is the most important for me.”
His promotional duties include visits to the headquarters of Honda and Bridgestone/Firestone, along with numerous sessions with newspaper, TV and radio reporters.
“It makes for a crazy two weeks,” he said. “This year, I have very little rest.”
Matsuura, 27, welcomes the distraction from what has been a disappointing start of the season – 16th- and 17th-place finishes.