DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The first three cars across the finish line were all Pontiac Firebirds, but that wasn't enough to prevent Ford from winning the coveted Manufacturers Championship in the Motorola Cup road racing series in the season finale at Daytona International Speedway.
Ford came into the three-hour race with a five-point lead over Pontiac, and needed only to be the third-best manufacturer in the finish order to tie Pontiac on the point chart, and unseat their long-lived dominance by virtue of the tie-breaker number of wins. And that they did with a seventh place overall finish, two laps off the pace and the third-best manufacturer, by Greg Wilkins and Scott Maxwell, both of Toronto, sharing the Coca-Cola Multimatic Motorsports Ford SVT Mustang Cobra.
The overall win and the Drivers Championship went to Doug Goad, Farmington Hills, Mich., driving the Powell Motorsports, Sunoco/Pennzoil Pontiac, making Goad two-for-two in Motorola Cup series season titles. Goad shared the winning ride with 23-year old Devon Powell, Port Perry, Ont., who finished two points in arrears on the season.
The race was run clean-and-green with nary a single lap of following the safety car, while Goad and Powell averaged 94.854 mph for 284.8 miles to take the win by 32.66 seconds over Stu Hayner, Yorba Linda, Calif., and John Heinricy, Holly, Mich., in one of Joe Aquilante's four Firebirds,
"That was the best-running six-cylinder Pontiac I've ever seen," smiled Powell at the end. "It started to puke some smoke when I turned it over to Doug after an hour, and it never got any better. It seemed like I lost one cylinder in my run, and he lost another in his stint, but it was a helluva V-6 to win by that much. We lost the Manufacturers Championship, but we're still thrilled to win the Motorola Cup's Team Championship and have Doug repeat the Drivers Championship."
Maxwell had qualified on the pole in his Coca-Cola Multimatic Motorsports, Ford SVT Mustang Cobra with a new record 101.24 mph average speed, but that car had trouble early and finished an unlucky 13th place, three laps off the pace. The team's second car, driven by David Lacey and Jay Malowney, destroyed an engine in the prerace warmup, had a new one installed, and retired it at the 32-lap point with more engine woes
Maxwell was slotted into the third car, started by Greg Wilkins, and tore through the field with a fastest race lap of 99.011 mph, finally securing the championship with six minutes remaining in the race when the Porsche 993 of fellow Torontoans Michael McCalmont and Alan Wortzman also slowed. Had they finished ahead of Maxwell, the title would have been Pontiac's, because also in the mix was the sixth place BMW M3 of Steve Pfeffer and Jeff McMillin.
The final six minutes of the race also determined the Sports class
Manufacturers Championship, going to Acura by a single point, thanks to a solid drive by John Bourassa, Hobe Sound, Fla., and Lance Stewart, Jupiter, Fla., in their Acura Integra R.
Only Acura or BMW could win the title, and only Stewart or Andy Lally, Northport, N.Y., driving the Team Spartanburg BMW Z3 Coupe, could become the Drivers Champion. Both men led the race often, and spent much of their race-finishing stints within sight of each other, but on the BMW's final pit stop, the gas flowed into the tank at far too slow a pace, perhaps because the pit refueling rig had been fairly depleted by Lally, and BMW lost the title.
The Touring class driving title went to Canton, Ohio brothers Wayne and Will Nonnamaker in the Planet Earth Mazda MX6. Wayne and Will came into the race two points behind their teammate, John Wymore, Milwaukie, Ore., but they finished third in class compared to the eighth place by Wymore and co-driver Dick Starita, Palm City, Fla., thus securing the win.
The Daytona race win was taken by Bob Endicott, San Pedro, Calif., and Peter Schwartzott, Freeville, N.Y., in the BBS Wheels Acura Integra R, which had already won the Manufacturers Championship for Acura.
In the Compact class, although the race win went to Peter Tonelli, Northboro, Mass., and John Phillips III, Sealey, Tex., in Mazda Miatas, the driving title was easily secured by Bob Beede, Falmouth, Mass., once he had driven 45 minutes in the Team Kendall Honda Civic del Sol which he has shared throughout the season with owner Bill Fenton of Keene, N.H.
Honda also won the Manufacturers Championship in that class, giving the Acura/Honda interests three championships in three opportunities.
Associate sponsors of the Motorola Cup series are Hoosier, Sunoco, Deringer, Sony, STP, Castrol and Speed Stick.
In addition to the race purses, $181,750 in contingency monies is posted at each Motorola Cup race from BMW, Audi, Honda/Acura, Mazda, Toyota, Ford, and General Motors, plus the Hoosier Pole Position program from Hoosier Tire.