ARA Racefacts 98-07-26

AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN JULY 26, 1998 Bill Saunders (Autolink Rocketsports Chevrolet Corvette) won his second consecutive 1998 SCCA NTB Trans-Am Series victory by taking the inaugural West Michigan Grand Prix on the ...

AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN JULY 26, 1998

Bill Saunders (Autolink Rocketsports Chevrolet Corvette) won his second consecutive 1998 SCCA NTB Trans-Am Series victory by taking the inaugural West Michigan Grand Prix on the Scott Brayton Memorial course on the streets of Grand Rapids Sunday. With the victory, Saunders took over second place in points behind team leader Paul Gentilozzi, the Grand Rapids polesitter. Gentilozzi led the first thirty laps before mechanical problems dropped him to sixth at the finish. Gentilozzi has "opened" the 1998 SCCA NTB Trans-Am Series season with EIGHT consecutive Fastest Lap honors, extending his new Trans-Am Fast Lap streak record. Rookie Bruce Qvale (Huffaker/Qvale Ford Mustang Cobra) finished second, with fellow rookie Chris Neville (ARCO Derhaag Chevrolet Camaro) third, each achieving career-best finishes. Neville is fourth in 1998 points and leads the rookies, but now by only 12 points over Qvale. Brian Simo, the midrace leader (laps 31-45) in his Valvoline Ford Mustang Cobra, took fourth, the last finisher on the lead lap, with Leighton Reese fifth, a lap down, in his TropArtic Pontiac Grand Prix as three marques and four models finished in the top five. Two other Top Ten finishers achieved career-best finishes: Peter Shea (Entrepreneur Magazine Ford Mustang Cobra) in seventh and James Briody (Briody Chevrolet Camaro) in eighth. Jeff Gordon (Dupont Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) won Pocono's Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR Winston Cup event; he now leads the series in 1998 victories with five, achieving the feat in race #18 of 1998, marking the latest point in a Winston Cup season for the posting of Jeff's fifth win. Jeff has been the first driver to achieve five wins in each of the last four Winston Cup seasons; he took his fifth 1995 win in race #16 (New Hampshire), his fifth 1996 win in race #13 (Pocono), and his fifth 1997 win in race #11 (Charlotte). Greg Moore (Players Forsythe Reynard 98I-Mercedes-Firestone) took his first 500-mile victory in the Michigan U.S. 500 CART Fed Ex event. The seven most recent 500s with CART participation (dating back to Jacques Villeneuve's 1995 Indianapolis 500 victory and Scott Pruett's 1995 MIS Marlboro 500 win) have been taken by first-time 500-miler winners. Mercedes (Mark Blundell, 1997 California Speedway, and Moore) has taken the last two CART 500-milers. Sweden's Kenny Brack (Power Team Foyt Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora-Goodyear) won Saturday evening's Visionare 500 K IRL event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Brack became the third Foyt driver to win an IRL event, joining Scott Sharp and Billy Boat. Brack became the fourth driver to win a Champ Car event after winning in European Formula 3000 racing. Gil De Ferran was the first (first F3000 win in 1993, first CART win in 1995), followed by Alessandro Zanardi (first F3000 win in 1991, first CART victory in 1996) and Mauricio Gugelmin (first F3000 win in 1987, first CART win in 1997). Brack, the winner of six Barber Saab Pro races in 1993 (Miami, Sebring, Lime Rock, Detroit, Watkins Glen, Road America) became the second driver to win in Barber Saab and the IRL, joining Robbie Buhl (first Barber Saab win in 1989, won 1997 New Hampshire IRL race). It is interesting to note that although F3000 is intended to be a "steppingstone series" for F1, only four F3000 racewinners have won World Championship F1 events: Johnny Herbert (1988 F3000, 1995 F1), Jean Alesi (1989 F3000, 1995 F1), David Coulthard (1993 F3000, first F1 win in 1995), and Olivier Panis (1993 F3000, 1996 F1). Brack won the 1986 Swedish FF1600 championship and moved on to British FF1600 in 1987, ranking eighth in points. He competed in the Swedish Formula 3 series in 1988 and 1989, ranking fourth each year and scoring three wins in 1989. Brack competed in the European Formula GM Lotus series in 1990 and 1991, ranking eighth and ninth in points, respectively. He won the 1992 Scandinavian Renault Clio Cup title, taking victory in nine of ten races. In 1993 he won the Barber Saab Pro title and commuted back and forth to Europe to compete in the European Renault Clio Cup, finishing second in points with wins at Barcelona and Spa. Brack competed in the Formula 3000 series in 1994, 1995, and 1996, ranking eleventh, third, and second in points, respectively. He won the 1995 Magny-Cours (France) round and won in 1996 on the German Nurburgring and Hockenheim circuits and on England's Silverstone course. Brack drove for Galles Racing in the 1997 IRL season, ranking 19th in points. Tony Renna (ALCO MATTCO) won Saturday's Michigan Dayton Indy Lights race; Renna became the sixth first-time Indy Lights winner of 1998, leaving the season total of "breakthrough" winners just one short of 1996's record of seven. The 1988 Indy Lights season produced six first-time winners; four first-time winners tasted victory in 1986, 1990, 1991, and 1997, three first-time winners were victorious in 1989, 1992, and 1994, two first-timers won in 1987 and 1993, and one first-timer won in 1995. Renna is a veteran of the Barber Dodge series; he ranked seventh in 1996 points and tenth in 1997 in partial-season efforts. His best finish in 1996, second, came at Mid-Ohio after he led the first two laps. He finished third at Laguna Seca and Sebring in 1996, taking the Sebring and Road America poles and setting the Sebring Fast Lap. In 1997 he finished second at Sebring from the pole, also setting Fast Lap; he also finished second at Mid-Ohio for the second consecutive year. Renna shared the fifth-place finish in GT3 in PSCR's 1997 Watkins Glen 6 Hours. Our website at http://members.aol.com/autoracg/ provides a wealth of useful and interesting auto racing information. The site also contains descriptions of the many services and products available from Auto Racing Analysis.

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Series General
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Johnny Herbert , Jean Alesi , David Coulthard , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Robbie Buhl , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Kenny Brack , Scott Pruett , Mark Blundell , Brian Simo , Paul Gentilozzi , Leighton Reese , Tony Renna , James Briody , Greg Moore