DARLINGTON, S.C. – Clarke Palmer was headed into Darlington Raceway sporting a Ricky Rudd throwback shirt.
Palmer, a resident of North Augusta, and friends were headed toward a tunnel connecting the grandstands and the infield near Turn 1.
He said the shirt was more than a throwback. Rudd, who drove from 1975-2007 in the Cup Series, was his favorite driver because when he was growing up, that was the driver his dad liked.
Palmer added that he had acquired the shirt through eBay’s vintage NASCAR section. The shirt, he added, was part of a vintage look he dons for the weekend. On Saturday, he wore a Rusty Wallace shirt. He also has two Jeff Gordon shirts and another Ricky Rudd shirt.
“I have a lot of fun with it,” Palmer said. “I love the old paint schemes.”
Palmer also wore a hat from the days when series sponsor Winston offered a $1 million bonus if a driver won three of four races at Daytona, Talladega, Charlotte and Darlington in a single season. Two drivers, Elliott and Gordon, won that prize during the time it was offered.
Now that Rudd has retired, Palmer said he likes Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the No.95 Toyota Camry for Leavine Family Racing, and Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Hendrick Motorsports.
“I like DiBenedetto for the underdog,” Palmer said. “I like Chase because I always liked [his father] Bill [Elliott], too.”