THERE WERE A NUMBER OF HIGHLIGHTS FOR FORD MOTOR COMPANY DURING THE 1998 NASCAR WINSTON CUP SEASON. FROM THE INTRODUCTION OF TAURUS, THE FIRST FULL-TIME FOUR-DOOR ENTRY IN NASCAR'S 50-YEAR HISTORY, TO A VARIETY OF OUTSTANDING TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL...
THERE WERE A NUMBER OF HIGHLIGHTS FOR FORD MOTOR COMPANY DURING THE 1998 NASCAR WINSTON CUP SEASON. FROM THE INTRODUCTION OF TAURUS, THE FIRST FULL-TIME FOUR-DOOR ENTRY IN NASCAR'S 50-YEAR HISTORY, TO A VARIETY OF OUTSTANDING TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENTS, THE 1998 SEASON WAS ONE OF THE MOST EVENTFUL IN FORD'S ILLUSTRIOUS MOTORSPORT HISTORY.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS AND STATISTICS:
* Taurus replaced the discontinued Thunderbird as Ford's entry in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and officially debuted during Speedweeks at Daytona in February. It took only 261 days for Taurus to go from its first look as a prototype to the actual race track for the first day of Daytona 500 practice. * Rusty Wallace won the first major race of the season in a Taurus as he captured the Bud Shootout at Daytona. * Mark Martin registered the first "official" points race win for Taurus with a dominating performance in the Las Vegas 400, a race in which Ford had 13 of the top 14 finishers. * Ford dominated the NASCAR Winston Cup season with 100 top-five finishes out of a possible 165 (61 percent), compared to 50 for Chevrolet (30 percent) and 15 for Pontiac (9 percent).
* Those 100 top five Ford efforts have been registered by 14 different drivers with five of those having 10 or more: Mark Martin (22); Dale Jarrett (19); Jeff Burton (18); Rusty Wallace (15); Jeremy Mayfield (12); Johnny Benson (3); Jimmy Spencer (3); Ted Musgrave (2); Geoff Bodine (1); Kenny Irwin (1); Chad Little (1); Robert Pressley (1); Ricky Rudd (1); and Rich Bickle (1). * Ford had four drivers finish in the top five in the final NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Mark Martin (second), Dale Jarrett (third), Rusty Wallace (fourth) and Jeff Burton (fifth) achieved that distinction while Jeremy Mayfield had the best finish of his still-budding career (seventh). * * Taurus won 15 races in 1998 with Mark Martin leading the way with seven, the highest single season total in his stellar NASCAR Winston Cup career. * Jeremy Mayfield was the only first-time winner during the 1998 season as he won the Pocono 500 in June. * Ricky Rudd extended his streak of winning at least one NASCAR Winston Cup race to 16 seasons when he triumphed in the blistering heat at Martinsville and the NAPA AutoCare 500. One of the most memorable moments may have been Rudd doing victory lane interviews on his back after suffering from exhaustion. * Rusty Wallace kept his personal winning streak alive as well, running his total to 13 straight seasons with at least one win after he captured the Dura Lube/Kmart 500 in Phoenix. * Dale Jarrett, who earned the first million dollar bonus of his career after winning the Winston 500 at Talladega, displayed enormous heart by driving the final three races of the season with a painful gallstone condition. Somehow, he managed to go the distance at both Rockingham and Atlanta and finished second in each of those events. * Kenny Irwin, driving the Texaco/Havoline Taurus, scored his first career pole position in the season-ending race in Atlanta and was named 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year.