Query is Quick in All American 400 NASHVILLE, TN - October 19, 1997 - Freddie Query had a dominant car from the drop of the green flag in the 17th Annual Manheim Auctions All American 400 at Nashville Speedway U.S.A. on Sunday afternoon, but the outcome was in doubt until the final caution occurred as a result of Ron Young and Wayne Anderson getting together and spinning in turn three on lap 395. This set up a mandatory green-white-checkered flag finish for the marathon event and left the large fan turnout clamoring for more as Query notched his eighth career NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series win and pocketed $32,705 in the process. The driver of the W.J. Plemons Insurance Chevrolet was queried after the race about his ability to snag all of the most lucrative lap leader bonuses put up by Manheim Auctions and his reply was, "Alex (Query, son and crew chief) planned in advance to schedule our pit stops in such a way to enable us to be in a position to lead laps 100, 200 and 300. We figured that if we didn't win the race we would still have a pretty good payday," he added. Laps 100, 200, 300 and 400 paid $1,000, $2,000, $1,000 and $1,000 respectively to the leader of those laps, and Query led all four, while also picking up $2,680, representing $10 per lap for leading 268 of the originally scheduled 400 laps. Due to the late race caution, and the mandatory green-white-checkered flag finish, he lead a total of 272 laps out of the 404 run to easily outdistance Young in the laps led category. Young led a total of 56 circuits around the 0.596 mile oval. Query notched his first career Busch Pole in 54 series starts by besting 67 other drivers during Friday's qualifying session. He outpaced the others seeking one of 40 starting positions with a lap time of 18.583 seconds equating to 115.40 mph. It was a lucrative pole position as well with the Mooresville, NC driver picking up $300 from Busch Beer and $1,000 from Manheim Auctions. He took full advantage of his pole position starting spot to jump out to a commanding lead, and proceeded to lead the first 105 laps before yielding the top spot to Albertville, AL's Tony Walls. Walls maintained the top spot until lap 131 when Pensacola, Fla.'s Scott Carlson spun his Chevrolet on the front stretch. During the resultant caution laps all of the leaders pitted which allowed Mike Cope to take the lead at the wheel of his Penrose Meat Snacks Chevrolet. Green flag racing resumed on lap 137 and Cope was able to maintain the top spot until lap 156 when Conyers, GA's Ron Young pushed his Southern Pipe & Supply Chevrolet into the lead for his first tour at the front of the pack. Young tangled with Mario Gosselin as he attempted to lap the Lake Wales, FL driver, bringing out the fifth caution of the race on lap 173. Once again all of the top runners took advantage of the slow go period to pit for fresh Hoosier Tires and Query reassumed command on lap 177. He powered away on the restart and did not give up the lead until he pitted on lap 257, once again for a caution displayed as a result of a second spin by Gosselin. Reutimann inherited the lead as most of the leaders pitted and held the TNN camera crew's attention until Query positioned himself to capture the lap leader bonus at lap 300. On lap 276 he took the lead for the fourth time and charged away until lap 350 when Denver, NC's Hank Parker, Jr., utilizing Mike Cope as a pick, powered around his racing mentor with an outside pass on the backstretch. Parker's lead was short lived. When the driver of the Delco Voyager Batteries/Duragloss/NGK Chevrolet attempted to put Jeff Fultz one lap down he made contact with the Milford, OH resident's JaniKing Chevrolet, sending his leading machine into the turn three wall, effectively ending his day in the process.
During the resultant caution period Query ducked into the pits before they were opened for pit stops by NASCAR officials. As a result he was relegated to restarting at the tail end of the lead lap cars. With fresh rubber it didn't matter. While Young regained the top spot and appeared to be on his way to his first All American 400 win, albeit if he could hold off a fast closing Wayne Anderson who was looking to repeat his 1996 win, Query was picking off cars on his march back to the front.
After restarting in the eighth spot on lap 365, he moved into fifth just three laps later, then into the fourth spot on lap 375. Three laps later he was into third and set his sights on Young and Anderson who were dueling side-by-side. With 15 laps to go the three lead cars began to engage into a dicey triangle with Young maintaining the top spot but getting heavy pressure from Anderson and Query. The trio entered turn three on lap 395 side-by-side with Young and Anderson getting together and spinning, partially collecting points leader Hal Goodson's Greased Lightning Cleaner Degreaser as well.
This set up the final dash for the cash and, as he had all day while leading on a restart, Query pulled away, ultimately winning by 1.806 seconds. NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series Flagman Rick Monroe could have thrown a blanket over the second through sixth place finishers as Fultz, Goodson and Bigley crossed the stripe side-by-side, along with Jody Ridley edging Bobby Hamilton for fifth in a similar side-by-side finish. Fultz edged Goodson by .004 seconds for second while Bigley trailed Goodson by .037 seconds. Ridley was bested by Bigley by .109 seconds, while Hamilton finished just .045 seconds behind Ridley for sixth. Young and Anderson recovered from their spin to finish seventh and eighth on the lead lap while Reutimann and Cope rounded out the top 10 one lap behind the leaders.
Query's fleet effort produced a new series event record time and average speed. The race was run in two hours, 53 minutes and 53 seconds at an average speed of 83.269 mph. There were a total of 11 cautions for 68 laps and the lead changed hands 13 times among seven drivers. Query's pole position earned him the distinction of being the 13th different polesitter in 19 series events while his win represented the 14th different winner over the course of 19 races. The points chase has grown ever so close with just one event remaining on the 1997 series schedule. Goodson now leads Fultz by just five points heading into the season finale.. Young now trails Goodson by 105 tallies and is the only other driver with a mathematical shot at the Slim Jim All Pro Series points title. Rounding out the top five are 1997 Port City Racing Rookie of the Year David Reutimann and Parker, with the duo being separated by merely one point. The balance of the top 10 consists of Steven Christian, Mike Harmon, Nipper Alsup, Derrick Gilchrist and Larry Raines.
As a result of his ninth place finish, Zephyrhills, Fla.'s Reutimann earned the $400 Port City Racing Rookie of the Race Award, his seventh such honor this season. Raleigh, N.C.'s Steve Mendenhall earned Rookie of the Race Runner-Up honors for the third time this year after finishing 14th.
Query's son Alex earned the $300 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Crew Chief of the Race award after guiding the family team's effort to victory.
The Homestead 150 is the 20th and final event of the 1997 NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series season and will be played out on WTBS before a live television audience for the second year in a row. The event will take place on November 8 and will be contested on the newly re-configured Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, FL. -30- For further information contact NASCAR Public Relations at (770) 486-3591. jn