Countdown to Daytona: A salute to tough guy Ricky Rudd

Our Daytona 500 countdown continues with the Great American Race now just 26 days away — Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. ET on FOX.

In today’s countdown of legendary Daytona moments, we salute one of the toughest men to ever drive a stock car, Virginia native Ricky Rudd, a.k.a. “The Rooster.”

The start of the 1984 season marked the 26th running of the Daytona 500. But in the preliminary Busch Clash — what this year will be called the Advance Auto Parts Clash — Rudd suffered a horrifying accident.

Coming out of Turn 4 Rudd’s Bud Moore-owned Ford Thunderbird first got sideways, then got airborne, flipped over and slid into the infield trioval in front of pit road. Rudd suffered a concussion and a serious ribcage injury in the crash.

But here’s how tough Rudd was: He ran the Daytona 500 anyway, with his eyes literally held open with duct tape. Rudd went on to finish seventh at Daytona and the following week, he won at Richmond.

In fact, despite getting busted up at Daytona, Rudd opened the ’84 season with seven straight top-10 finishes.

Now that is a tough guy. Salute to you, Ricky!