AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN JUNE 28, 1998 Jeff Gordon's (DuPont Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) win in Sears Point's Save Mart/Kragen 350 NASCAR Winston Cup was Jeff's fourth 1998 Winston Cup victory and marked 1998 as the...
AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN
JUNE 28, 1998
Jeff Gordon's (DuPont Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) win in Sears Point's Save Mart/Kragen 350 NASCAR Winston Cup was Jeff's fourth 1998 Winston Cup victory and marked 1998 as the fourth consecutive season of four or more Winston Cup victories for Gordon, the only such streak any driver has compiled in 1990s Winston Cup racing. The streak of four seasons with four or more wins is tied for fourth-ranking among such streaks achieved in the "modern era" (1972-1998) of Winston Cup racing. The longest "modern era" streak of consecutive seasons with four or more Winston Cup wins was achieved by Darrell Waltrip; DW won four or more Winston Cup races for eight consecutive seasons, 1977 through 1984. Bobby Allison's six-season (1978-1983) streak ranks second, with Cale Yarborough's five-season (1976-1980) streak ranking third. Richard Petty's four-season streak (1972-1975) ranks tied for fourth with Gordon's current streak. Surprisingly, only four other "modern era" streaks of three or more seasons with four or more wins have been achieved; Dale Earnhardt has achieved three three-season streaks (1985-1987, 1989-1991, 1993-1995) and David Pearson one (1972-1974). Gordon has thus far won 31 races during his four-year streak of consecutive seasons with four or more wins (seven wins in 1995, ten in 1996, ten in 1997, and four in 1998); the best four-season "modern era" win totals, 37 victories, have been achieved by Darrell Waltrip (1981-1984) and Richard Petty (1972-1975) and Jeff needs six more 1998 victories to tie those records. The Sprint PCS Grand Prix of Minnesota in Minneapolis featured Paul Gentilozzi's (Autolink Rocketsports Chevrolet Corvette) third consecutive 1998 NTB Trans-Am Series victory and his fifth win in six 1998 races. Paul led "flag to flag" from the pole and set Fast Lap. Gentilozzi has tied the all-time SCCA Trans-Am record for consecutive Fast Laps with 6 (every 1998 Fast Lap.) as he has matched George Follmer's performance in 1972 when George set the first six Fast Laps, although the first of Follmer's Fast Laps was "shared." John W. Miller IV (PLC Direct Chevrolet Camaro) was the runnerup in the event; he is also the runnerup in the 1998 point standings. The runnerup finish was a career-best result for Miller. Michael Lewis and Brian Simo placed third and fifth in Ford Mustang Cobras with Gentilozzi's Autolink Corvette teammate Bill Saunders fourth. Simo is third in points and appears to be the only FOMOCO threat to the leading Bowtie Brigade drivers. The Minneapolis USRRC Can-Am/GT race resulted in a third consecutive victory for the Dyson Racing team and its Ford-powered R & S Mk 3s. James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger won from the pole (achieved by Weaver for the second consecutive race and by Dyson Racing for the third consecutive race) by 22.057 seconds over teammates Dorsey Schroeder and Elliott Forbes-Robinson (the Mid-Ohio winners). Weaver and Leitzinger, also the Can-Am winners at Homestead, became the 1998 season's first two-time winners in the Can-Am class. Weaver also set Fast Lap. Doc Bundy and Johnny O'Connell (Visteon Ford Panoz GTR) finished third overall on the lead lap and won GT1 by one lap over the STP Champion Porsche 911 GT1 of Thierry Boutsen and Bob Wollek. The victory by the Panoz team was its third consecutive in GT1. Bundy's win was his second in GT1 in 1998 (he also won at Homestead) and ties fellow Panoz driver Andy Wallace for 1998 USRRC GT1 win honors. O'Connell put the Panoz on the GT1 pole, the team's fourth consecutive in 1998's four events. Ross Bentley and Mark Simo teamed in PTG's Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 to win GT3, finishing ninth and taking the class win by one lap over the runnerup Danny Marshall/Darren Law Porsche 911. The Marshall/Law entry led GT3 early in the event. The GT3 victory was the fourth consecutive in USRRC GT3 by PTG BMW and Bentley's win was his second in GT3, joining his Homestead win. PTG BMW scored its first USRRC GT2 win as Peter Cunningham and Brian Simo drove their Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 to tenth overall and a four-lap win over GT2 runnersup David Russell, Jr. and Wiliam Stitt in a Porsche 911. Cunningham's win was his second in USRRC GT competition, joining his GT3 win in the Daytona 24 Hours. James Weaver leads the Can-Am class in the 1998 point standings; Weaver has a four-point lead over teammate Leitzinger with fellow Dyson drivers EF-R and Dorsey Schroeder tied for third ranking. Jeret Schroeder (no relation to Dorsey.) and Tom Volk have driven their Chevrolet-powered Kudzu to fifth ranking in the Can-Am points. Champion Porsche 911 GT1 driver Thierry Boutsen leads the 1998 USRRC GT1 point standings by 23 points (112-89) over Shane Lewis, driver of the Chevrolet-powered Mosler Raptor. Panoz drivers David Brabham, Andy Wallace, and Eric Bernard rank 3-4-5 but are well adrift of the top two. Scott Sansone and Cameron Worth (third in GT2 at Minneapolis) lead GT2 in their Mazda RX-7 with 110 points over the Russell/Stitt Porsche team at 77 points. PTG BMW driver Ross Bentley leads the 1998 USRRC GT3 point standings with 117 points over the 111 of runnerup Porsche RSR driver Danny Marshall. PTG BMW drivers fill the next four positions in the standings. Minneapolis SCCA World Challenge T1 action saw the Big Three Detroit Iron finish 1-2-3 as Chevrolet's Corvette won over Ford's Saleen Mustang with Dodge's Viper third. The 5-6-7 finishers were Toyota Supra Turbo-BMW M3-Porsche 911 as six marques finished in the top seven positions. Chris Wiehle won T1 in the Melrose Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette to give Corvette the honor of becoming the first two-time winning marque in 1998 T1 competition. Saleen/Allen Ford Saleen Mustang pilot Terry Borcheller and Mid-Ohio T1 racewinner finished second and set Fast Lap with teammate Ron Johnson fourth as Johnson's streak of three consecutive runnerup finishes ended. Johnson maintains the 1998 point lead. Terry Borcheller was Fast Qualifier in his Ford Saleen Mustang for the third consecutive race, set Fast Lap for the third consecutive race, and led for the third consecutive race, holding the point for the first sixteen laps. The win was Wiehle's first in eight SCCA World Challenge starts; the win bettered his previous career-best of third in T1 at Heartland Park in 1998. The T1 victory margin was a close 0.457 second; the race produced nine lead-lap finishers, two leaders, and one lead change, as Wiehle took over the lead from Borcheller on the seventeenth of the nineteen laps. Lance Stewart won T2 in his DC Sports Acura Integra R, scoring his career-first World Challenge win in his twelfth start, bettering his previous career-best of third in the 1996 St. Petersburg S2 event and scoring Acura's third win in four 1998 T2 races. He won by 6.4429 seconds over Mid-Ohio T2 winner Hugh Plumb. Alain Chebeir finished third, the 2-3 finishers driving BMW 328is entries. Realtime/Comptech Acura Integra R driver Michael Galati was the polesitter and finished fourth, ending his streak of three consecutive runnerup finishes. Chuck Hemmingson took fifth and Fast Lap in a Pontiac Sunfire. Plumb led the T2 race for the first seventeen laps and Stewart led the remaining eleven laps of the 28-lap event. T2 produced ten lead-lap finishers. The lead-lap finish figure for each race was an event record, eclipsing the 8 lead-lap finishers previous mark for both classes; the T2 victory margin was both an all-class and T2 event record. No driver or marque has scored multiple victories in the three (1996-97-98) Minneapolis World Challenge events. Chevrolet and GM reached significant milestones. Chevrolet, the leading marque in World Challenge race victories, scored its 50th win, and General Motors, the leading corporate manufacturer in World Challenge race victories, scored its 75th win. Chevrolet's nearest marque competitor, Eagle, has 31 wins, while GM's nearest corporate manufacturer competitor, Honda, has only 36 wins. The last five SCCA World Challenge T1 races (1997 Reno, 1998 Heartland Park, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Minneapolis) have been won by five different drivers (Lou Gigliotti, Bill Cooper, Peter Cunningham, Terry Borcheller, Chris Wiehle), tying the all-time T1 record for races without repeat-winning drivers first established in 1996 (Phoenix through Trois Rivieres). The all-time, all-classes World Challenge record for consecutive races without repeat-winning drivers is 8 races in T2, 1995 Lime Rock through 1996 Phoenix. The 1998 T1 season has "opened" with FOUR races producing FOUR racewinning drivers (Bill Cooper, Peter Cunningham, Terry Borcheller, Chris Wiehle), FOUR racewinning teams (Pirate Racing, Realtime/Comptech, Saleen/Allen, Melrose), and three racewinning marques/models (Chevrolet Corvette two wins, Acura NSX and Ford Saleen Mustang one apiece). This racewinning driver diversity has been matched by the first four races of only one other T1 season: 1995. In 1995's first four races, the winning drivers were Neil Hannemann, Lou Gigliotti, Kermit Upton, and Willy Lewis; Lewis ended the streak by winning race five of the 1995 T1 season. The "season-opening" T1 streak of four winning teams is a new record, for in 1995 the winning teams in the first four T1 events were Archer, Gigliotti, Mountain, and Archer as the team diversity ended in race four while in 1998 the team diversity streak continues. With four races completed in 1998 SCCA World Challenge racing, the point leaders, Ron Johnson in T1 and Michael Galati in T2, are winless. Each has amassed the same finishing record, three runnerup finishes plus a fourth-place finish. Has any season's World Challenge champion gone winless en route to the title? No. The "closest to winless" champions were Willy Lewis in 1993 T1 and Peter Cunningham in 1995 T2, each with one win in eight starts. Martin Snow won the 1996 S1 title with one win in three starts. Lance Stewart won T2 at Minneapolis 1998 from eighth starting position; only two other T2 winners started from lower positions, the 1995 Lime Rock and Sears Point T2 victors, each winning from ninth starting position. Stewart tied the T2 "street or temporary circuit" record for lowest starting racewinner, as the 1995 Trois Rivieres T2 winner started from eighth.