AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN MARCH 15, 1998 Youth and Experience shared the limelight in this weekend's racing action as veteran drivers won races while young lions won poles, contended for victory, and also suffered...
AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN
MARCH 15, 1998
Youth and Experience shared the limelight in this weekend's racing action as veteran drivers won races while young lions won poles, contended for victory, and also suffered injury. Michael Andretti (Texaco Havoline/K-Mart Newman-Haas Swift/Cosworth Ford/Goodyear) won Sunday's opening round of the CART Fed Ex Championship series, the Marlboro GP of Miami held at Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. At age 35 a "veteran" of the series, Michael scored his 37th win. When Michael turned 35, he had 36 Champ Car wins; it's interesting to note that when father Mario turned 35 (February 28, 1975), he had at that point only 32 Champ Car wins. Michael has now won a Champ Car race in eleven seasons; he won three races in 1986 (his first win came at Long Beach on April 13, 1986), four in 1987, none in 1988 (although he did win the nonpoint Marlboro Challenge), two in 1989, five in 1990, eight in 1991 (plus the Marlboro Challenge), five in 1992, none in 1993 when he was competing in F1, two in 1994, one in 1995, six in 1996, and one in 1997. The Homestead victory was only Michael's fourth on an oval greater than a mile, joining two Michigan 500-mile wins and 1997's Homestead victory. He has won eight races on mile ovals and thus has twelve oval victories. Michael has won fifteen times on "street or temporary" circuits and ten times on permanent road courses. At the other end of the age scale, Greg Moore finished second after becoming CART's youngest polewinner. With Alessandro Zanardi third, the engine finish was Ford-Mercedes-Honda. In the PPG Dayton Indy Lights opener at Homestead, the oldest driver in the race, Shigeaki Hattori (Epson Indy Regency), 34 years old (DOB: November 11, 1963 Okayama, Japan), took his first-ever Indy Lights victory. Shigeaki's win came in his 24th start in the series; he now has two Top Five and nine Top Ten finishes. His win bettered his previous career-best of fourth at Toronto in 1996; his previous best oval finish was sixth at Milwaukee in 1996. Shigeaki ranked 25th in 1997 Indy Lights points after placing thirteenth in 1996. In 1995, he ranked 13th in Toyota Atlantic points with two Top Five and three Top Ten finishes in eight starts; he was fifth at Trois Rivieres and Mid-Ohio and seventh at Laguna Seca. While young lion Cristiano DaMatta was the race runnerup, young lion polesitter Sergio Paese wrecked battling for the lead and Clint Mears wrecked in practice suffering a shoulder injury. Nashville's Bell South Mobility/Opryland 320 NASCAR Busch Grand National event saw Mike McLaughlin (Goulds Pumps Cicci-Welliver Chevrolet Monte Carlo) take his fourth career victory over 17-year old polesitter Casey Atwood (Red Line Oil Chevrolet Monte Carlo), the series' youngest polesitter. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (AC Delco Chevrolet Monte Carlo) continued the youth theme behind the winner by placing third. McLaughlin's win was his first on a "short track," joining two "mile" wins (1995 Dover, 1997 New Hampshire) and a 1997 Watkins Glen road course victory. The victory was Chevrolet's fourth consecutive in the Nashville BGN race; Chevrolet has won five of the seven events, Buick and Pontiac one apiece. The seven Nashville BGN races have had seven different racewinners and seven different polesitters. 1996 and 1997 NASCAR Busch Grand National champion Randy Lajoie (FINA BACE Chevrolet Monte Carlo) finished fourth and took over the point lead. After winning the March 7 NARC Sprint Car opener at Kings, youngster Bud (son of Brent) Kaeding wrecked in Silver Dollar's Mini Gold Cup, suffering a concussion. Paul McMahan won the race. Jay Drake took his first SCRA Sprint Car win Saturday at Perris. Mark Kinser's Pike County Pennzoil World of Outlaws Sprint Car win was his 90th in an "A" feature and signals that Mark has a real chance to displace Doug Wolfgang from WoO's historic "Big Three" as Wolfie is third on the all-time win list with 107. Steve Kinser has 418 wins, Sam Swindell 229. NHRA's Gainesville Mac Tools Gatornationals on Saturday produced a Top Fuel victory for Kenny Bernstein, a Funny Car win for Cruz Pedregon and a Pro Stock triumph for Warren Johnson. AC Delco Chevrolet Camaro Z28 driver Kurt Johnson made it to the third round and joined the 200 MPH club in round one. Professional Sports Car Racing's Sebring 12 Hours will open its season on Saturday, March 21. PSCR first sanctioned the Sebring 12 Hours in 1973; no race was held in 1974 but the race has been held annually beginning with 1975. These twenty-four PSCR-sanctioned Sebring classics have produced fourteen overall victories by Porsche, four by Nissan, two each by Ferrari and Toyota and one each by BMW and Oldsmobile (in an R & S Mark III chassis). Porsche won with Carreras in 1973, 1976, and 1977, with 935 Turbos in 1978 through 1982 and 1984, with a 934 GTS-1 entry in 1983, and with 962s in 1985 through 1988. Porsche set a PSCR record of 13 consecutive Sebring overall wins by taking the 1976 through 1988 events, with only BMW's 1975 win interrupting the streak. Nissan then won three straight Sebring classics, 1989 through 1991, followed by Toyota victories in 1992 and 1993, a Nissan GTS-1 victory overall in 1994, a Ferrari 333SP win in 1995, and the Oldsmobile Aurora R & S Mk III victory in 1996, and another Ferrari 333SP win in 1997. Prior to the first PSCR-sanctioned Sebring 12 Hours in 1973, twenty-one Sebring 12 Hours classics were held. The first event took place in 1952; the next twenty races, 1953-1972, were FIA Sportscar World Championship events. The inaugural race was won by a Frazer-Nash driven by Harry Grey and Larry Kulok. The 1953 event, the inaugural race of the new (and now defunct.) FIA Sportscar World Championship, was won by a Chrysler-powered Cunningham C4R driven by John Fitch and Phil Walters, the only win ever for Chrysler power in the series. An OSCA driven by Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd won in 1954, a Jaguar D driven by Mike Hawthorn and Phil Walters (the race's first two-time winner.) won in 1955, Juan Manuel Fangio and Eugenio Castellotti drove a Ferrari to victory in 1956, and Fangio (the race's first consecutive winner) and Jean Behra won in a Maserati 450S in 1957, completing a streak of six events without a repeat-winning marque or engine manufacturer. Ferrari won the next two events (1958 and 1959) with Phil Hill appearing on the winning team in both races, joined by Peter Collins in 1958 and Olivier Gendebien, Dan Gurney, and Chuck Daigh in 1959. Porsche took its first victory in 1960 with an RS60 driven by Gendebien and Hans Herrmann. Phil Hill teamed with Gendebien to win 1961's 12 hours in a Ferrari as Gendebien became the first driver to win three consecutive Sebring classics. Joakim Bonnier and Lucien Bianchi won in a Ferrari in 1962 while the factory Ferrari team returned to Sebring's victory lane in 1963 and 1964 with John Surtees/Ludovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes/Umberto Maglioli; Ferrari thus had taken four consecutive Sebring wins and six of the seven events in the 1958-1964 period. Jim Hall and Hap Sharp won in a Chevrolet-powered Chaparral in 1965; the Ford teams of Ken Miles/Lloyd Ruby and Mario Andretti/Bruce McLaren won in 1966 and 1967 to give American power three consecutive wins. Porsche took its second win in 1968 with Hans Herrmann and Jo Siffert; Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver took Ford's third win (in a GT40) in 1969. Ferrari took its first Sebring win since 1964 in 1970 courtesy of Mario Andretti, Nino Vaccarella, and Ignazio Giunti. Porsche's final win of the pre-PSCR Sebring period came in 1971 with Vic Elford/Gerard Larrousse in a 917K, while Ferrari took the final pre-PSCR win, and its most recent at Sebring, in 1972 with Jacky Ickx and Mario Andretti. The twenty-one race pre-PSCR period saw Ferrari score nine wins, Porsche three, Ford three, and one win apiece for six other marques. If a Ferrari takes the 1998 pole the Prancing Horse will have achieved a four-race streak, breaking the record three-race pole streak it shares with the Porsche 935 Turbo (1979-81) and the Nissan GTP cars (ZX-T in 1989 and 1990, NPT-90 in 1991). The PTG BMW M3 team seeks its fourth consecutive Daytona/Sebring endurance race win, as the team won GT3 in the 1997 Daytona 24 Hours, 1997 Sebring 12 Hours, and 1998 Daytona 24 Hours.
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