ARA Racefacts 98-03-29

AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN MARCH 29, 1998 Jeff Gordon (DuPont Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) won Sunday's Bristol Food City 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race, becoming 1998's first two-time NASCAR Winston Cup racewinner.


MARCH 29, 1998

Jeff Gordon (DuPont Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) won Sunday's Bristol Food City 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race, becoming 1998's first two-time NASCAR Winston Cup racewinner. Teammate Terry Labonte (Kelloggs Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) was the runnerup. Jeff has now become a Winston Cup season's first two-time winner three times: 1995, 1997, and 1998. When he achieved the feat in 1995 and 1997 he went on to win that season's Winston Cup title. Penske teammates Rusty Wallace and Jeremy Mayfield are now separated by only one point as they continue to rank 1-2 in 1998 Winston Cup points but the Gordon-Labonte Hendrick duo ranks 3-4 only 41 and 58 points, respectively, out of first. Adrian Fernandez (Tecate Patrick Reynard-Ford-Firestone) won Saturday's CART Fed Ex Championship series Budweiser 500 K event on Japan's new oval, Twin Ring Motegi. The victory was Adrian's second in the CART series and first on an oval. Adrian is no stranger to oval victories, however, as three of his four 1992 Indy Lights victories ( Phoenix, Milwaukee, New Hampshire) came on ovals. For the second consecutive event, the powerplant order was Ford-Mercedes-Honda but Penske chassis mounted the podium in second with Al Unser, Jr. while the tire order flipped from the first race's Goodyear-Firestone to Firestone-Goodyear. 1998 is following 1997's pattern: Newman-Haas won the opener in 1997 and 1998 and Patrick Racing won the second race of the season in 1997 (Scott Pruett, Surfers Paradise) and in 1998 (Fernandez, Motegi). Ford's best season CART start of the 1990s? 1995, when Ford power won the first three events (the Green, Newman-Haas, and Walker teams scored the wins with Jacques Villeneuve, Paul Tracy, and Robby Gordon). Elliott Sadler (Phillips 66 Bechtel Chevrolet Camaro) won Saturday's Bristol Moore's Snacks 250 NASCAR Busch Grand National race. The victory was Sadler's fourth in the series and second on a short track; in 1997 he won on the Myrtle Beach short track and on the Gateway and Nazareth superspeedways. The Saturday victory marks Elliott's first BGN win on a Winston Cup venue. Sadler has won four of the last 24 NASCAR BGN races. The first six 1998 NASCAR Busch Grand National races have been won by six different drivers. This mark ties the best 1990s performance of the series, achieved in 1991 and again in 1992 when the first six races produced six different winners. The series' all-time mark? Thirteen winners in the first 13 races in 1988. The first ten races produced ten winners in 1987, the first seven races were won by seven different winners in 1989, and the first six races produced six different winners in 1982 and 1985. Chevrolet has won five of the 1998 BGN events, Pontiac one. Mike McLaughlin remains the point leader by seven points over Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with Matt Kenseth third and Elliott Sadler fourth. 1996 and 1997 champion Randy Lajoie is sixth but only 71 points out of the lead. While the introduction of the Taurus has been a boon to Ford's Winston Cup racers, the same is not the case in Busch Grand National as Ford is winless through the first six 1998 races, its worst season start in the series since 1991 when Ford was winless for the season. Since Ford first took a win in the series in 1987 in that season's ninth race, it first won in race three in 1988, race 22 in 1989, race 15 in 1990, race 4 in 1992, race 2 in 1993, race 6 in 1994, race 1 in 1995, race 2 in 1996, and race 2 in 1997. Mark Martin was the Blue Oval's first winner of the season in eight of these instances, the honor going to another driver only in 1992 (Jeff Gordon) and 1995 (Chad Little). The 1998 SCCA NTB Trans-Am Series begins Sunday, April 5 at Long Beach. The 27 drivers entered for the season-opening 1998 SCCA NTB Trans-Am Series event at Long Beach have amassed a total of 63 major series or major event race wins. The 27 drivers have accounted for 25 SCCA World Challenge victories, seven North American Touring Car Championship Independents Challenge race wins, seven PSCR GT race wins, six SCCA Runoffs victories, four SCCA Trans-Am race wins, four PSCR Firehawk Endurance wins, three Nelson Ledges 24 Hours victories, two SCCA American City Racing League (ACRL) victories, one ACRL S2000 class win, two New Zealand TraNZam race wins, one win in the SCCA U.S. Endurance Championship, and one victory in the SCCA Volkswagen Cup. Drivers entered for the season-opener have also scored race wins in SCCA National, Divisional, and Regional competition and in the NASPORT series. Lou Gigliotti has achieved three SCCA World Challenge season point titles while Steve Petty won the 1996 North American Touring Car Championship Independents Challenge title. Drivers entered for the season-opener have also scored season titles in SCCA Divisional class competition. The 27 drivers include twelve Long Beach Trans-Am "rookies" and fifteen drivers with previous Long Beach Trans-Am experience. The fifteen drivers entered with previous Long Beach Trans-Am experience have amassed 32 starts in the event, scoring one win, two Top Three "podium" finishes, four Top Five finishes, and nine Top Ten finishes. Jim Derhaag, Paul Gentilozzi and Mark Pielsticker lead the way in experience with five Long Beach Trans-Am starts apiece. The event has a six-race history; the first event was held in 1987, followed by races in 1988 and 1989. The series returned to Long Beach for 1992 and 1993 events and again in 1996. Six races - and six faces in Victory Lane. Three of the six winners - Paul Gentilozzi in 1988, Robby Gordon in 1992, and Jamie Galles in 1996, scored their career-first Trans-Am wins at Long Beach. Only one Long Beach racewinner went on to take that season's Trans-Am championship: inaugural racewinner Scott Pruett in 1987. Paul Gentilozzi and Bill Saunders are entered in Rocketsports Chevrolet Corvettes in the pro road racing debut of the "fifth generation" Vette. The Chevrolet Corvette first appeared in the SCCA NTB Trans-Am Series in 1973; a rules change allowed the Corvette to compete in the series for the first time. Three Corvettes appeared in the 1973 season-opener, held April 15 at Road Atlanta. J. Marshall Robbins was Fast Qualifier in a Corvette and took the pole. He finished third in the race, one lap down. Tony DeLorenzo started alongside Robbins in another Corvette as the model made its debut with a 1-2 start. DeLorenzo crashed out on lap six, however, and placed 25th. The third Corvette entered in the race, driven by Joe Pirrotta and Richard Dagiel, started 24th but retired after 25 laps with battery problems, placing 20th. Chevrolet's Corvette took its first Trans-Am win in its fifth race as John Greenwood started second on July 28, 1973 at Road America and won the race. Greenwood took a second consecutive victory on August 19, 1973 at Edmonton; he won from the pole and also set Fast Lap. Chevrolet Corvettes have won 38 Trans-Am races, tied for third-ranking all-time with Porsche's 911 models behind the all-time leader Chevrolet Camaro's 87 wins and the Ford Mustang's 79 victories. Chevrolet Corvette drivers have won four SCCA Trans-Am season point titles. John Greenwood was the first Corvette pilot to win the title, in 1975. Greg Pickett won the "top class" Category II title in 1978 driving a Corvette. Gene Bothello won the 1979 Category I championship driving a Corvette. The most recent Corvette-driving Trans-Am champion, Eppie Wietzes, won his title in 1981. The Corvette's most recent Trans-Am win was scored on June 17, 1989 in the Detroit Trans-Am by Greg Pickett in a Morrison entry. He started seventh and won the 40-lap event after leading only the final two laps. The most recent pole position achieved by a Corvette-driving Fast Qualifier was achieved by David Hobbs on May 20, 1984 at Summit Point driving a DeAtley Corvette. David was Fast Qualifier, started from the pole, and led the first nine laps (of 50) before finishing second. The most recent Trans-Am Top Ten finish by a Corvette driver was achieved in the August 16, 1992 Trois Rivieres event by Jerry Simmons. Jerry started fifteenth and finished ninth, completing 47 of 50 laps and winning the race's Hard Charger award. Steve Kinser's (Quaker State Kinser Maxim Chevrolet) March 21 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Sprint Car A Feature victory at Devils Bowl requalified Steve for a 1998 position on the ARA Consistent Winners list. Steve's major series win streak began in 1978 in WoO and includes wins in ALL-STAR, NSCA, USA, and USAC Sprint Cars and USAC Silver Crown and a 1994 IROC win at Talladega. Mark Kinser won Friday night's Tulsa WoO event and Steve won Saturday night at Oklahoma City.

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Series General
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Rusty Wallace , Randy Lajoie , Robby Gordon , Adrian Fernandez , Paul Tracy , Scott Pruett , Mike McLaughlin , Paul Gentilozzi , Mark Kinser , Chad Little , Jerry Simmons , Al Unser Sr. , Steve Kinser , David Hobbs , Greg Pickett , Steve Petty , Elliott Sadler , Joe Pirrotta , Mark Martin