AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN FEBRUARY 15, 1998 Dale Earnhardt's first victory in the Daytona 500 (GM Goodwrench Service Plus RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlo) in his twentieth attempt adds a dramatic exclamation point to ...
AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN
FEBRUARY 15, 1998
Dale Earnhardt's first victory in the Daytona 500 (GM Goodwrench Service Plus RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlo) in his twentieth attempt adds a dramatic exclamation point to the achievement but points out the challenge of winning any particular annual event. In fact, Dale still has not won the annual August event at Michigan International Speedway and will attempt to do so this year in his nineteenth try (he missed the 1979 event after a Pocono wreck). On the current 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup schedule of events, Dale hasn't won Pocono's June event, nor at Watkins Glen, and failed to win the California and Texas inaugurals in 1997. The victory not only ended a Winston Cup "point race" victory drought dating back to March 1996's Atlanta event but also ended a "restrictor plate point race" drought; Dale's last win in a "plate" point race took place in the 1994 Talladega Winston 500. The all-time "plate" standings show Chevrolet with 25 wins, Ford with 14, Buick and Oldsmobile with two apiece. Coupled with Terry Labonte's 1997 Talladega DieHard 500 win, Chevrolet now has a two-race "plate win streak." Morgan-McClure remains the all-time leader in "plate" wins with 9, followed by RCR with 8 and Hendrick with six; Yates ranks fourth at five. Dale Earnhardt leads the drivers with eight wins to Marlin's five; Ernie Irvan and Davey Allison have four apiece, Bill Elliott and Jeff Gordon three each. Joe Nemechek (Bell South Mobility Chevrolet Monte Carlo) won Saturday's NAPA 300 Daytona NASCAR Busch Grand National event. The win was Joe's first in the event. Joe made history by becoming the first driver in BGN (1982-1998) history to win the final event of a season (1997 Homestead) and the opening event of the next (1998 Daytona). Earnhardt and Sterling Marlin (Coors Sabco Chevrolet Monte Carlo) won the Gatorade 125 Qualifiers; these victories combined with the 300/500 sweep by the Bowtie Brigade gave Chevrolet a sweep of the final four Winston Cup honors at Speedweeks after Pontiac opened with the 500 pole and Ford took the Bud Shootout qualifier and Bud Shootout. Jeff Gordon's unsatisfying Daytona Winston Cup results overshadowed a major milestone in his career as on Friday at Daytona he scored a first-time victory in IROC. Jeff's first IROC win came in his 13th start; his previous IROC results had seen him finish second at Darlington in 1995 and post thirds at MIS in 1995 and at Charlotte in 1997. Jeff's relatively long wait for an IROC victory was not unprecedented among IROC veterans; Geoff Brabham and Gordon Johncock each took their first IROC wins in their 14th IROC starts, while A.J. Foyt didn't win until his 17th IROC start and Dale Earnhardt didn't win until his 18th IROC start. Richard Petty holds the IROC record for starts without a victory at 21; his best finish was second at Riverside in 1977. Johnny Rutherford was winless in twenty IROC starts with a best finish of second at MIS in 1976. Tom Kendall is winless in 17 IROC starts (including a crash Friday) with a best finish of second at MIS in 1995. Hurley Haywood failed to win in 16 IROC starts with a best finish of fourth at Daytona in his very first effort in 1986. Gordon's IROC win, coupled with Randy Lajoie's in the MIS 1997 finale, produced the first two-race streak of IROC first-time winners since 1994 when Mark Martin took his first-ever IROC win at Darlington and Steve Kinser then won at Talladega. Mike Swaim (Pennzoil Pontiac) won Friday's Daytona Discount Auto Parts 200 Dash race; the victory was Mike's first in the event but the fifth for his family as his father Mike won the race in 1984, 1985, and 1986 plus 1994. Ken Schrader's victory (Bud Schrader Chevrolet Monte Carlo) in the NASCAR Southwest Tour event in the Phoenix Copper Classic made Ken the first 1998 requalifier for the ARA Consistent Winners list. Our website at http://members.aol.com/autoracg/ provides a wealth of useful and interesting auto racing information.