ARA Racefacts Bulletin 98-02-22

AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN FEBRUARY 22, 1998 Jeff Gordon (DuPont Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) won Sunday's Rockingham GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race with six Ford Tauruses following him home!...


FEBRUARY 22, 1998

Jeff Gordon (DuPont Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) won Sunday's Rockingham GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race with six Ford Tauruses following him home! The lead Taurus, the Penske Miller entry of Rusty Wallace, gave Wallace the 1998 Winston Cup point lead with the runnerup finish coupled with his fifth-place result in the Daytona 500. Since taking his first Winston Cup race win in 1994, Jeff has now taken a win in five consecutive seasons! Jeff has won 30 of the 126 1994-1998 Winston Cup events, or 23.80952%! Why take the decimal points out to five places? Because of an uncanny statistic! Herb Thomas took his first NASCAR Winston Cup win in 1950 and continued to post at least one win in every season through 1956; more importantly, in Herb's first five consecutive seasons of Winston Cup race wins, 1950-1954, Thomas won 40 of the 168 races, or 23.80952%! Of course, Jeff Gordon has thirty more races left in 1998, and may or may not remain "on pace" with Thomas' percentage or raw victory pace for the similar period in his career! In the "modern era" (1972-1998) of Winston Cup racing, the closest parallel to Gordon's first five CONSECUTIVE racewinning years' win total was achieved by Bill Elliott; Bill first won in 1983, and consecutive racewinning seasons through 1987 produced 23 wins. Darrell Waltrip first won in 1975 and his five consecutive racewinning seasons through 1979 produced 22 wins. Matt Kenseth (Lycos Robbie Reiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) scored a dramatic upset victory in Saturday's Rockingham GM Goodwrench Service Plus 200 NASCAR Busch Grand National event! Matt edged leading 1998 BGN Rookie of the Year contender Tony Stewart (Shell Gibbs Pontiac Grand Prix) in a battle to become a first-time BGN racewinner! Kenseth placed 22nd in 1997 NASCAR Busch GN points and was runnerup for 1997 BGN Rookie of the Year honors to Steve Park (third in overall points). However, the raw statistics do not tell the whole story, as Kenseth competed in only 21 of the 30 1997 BGN events; his average point score for the 21 events projected to 30 races would have ranked him seventh in 1997 BGN points! Kenseth is a veteran of Midwest short track late model competition; Matt concentrated on the ARTGO series from 1990 through 1994, ranking 18th in 1990 ARTGO points, sixth in 1991, ninth in 1992, 18th in 1993 and 12th in 1994. He took his first ARTGO win on June 18, 1991 at LaCrosse; he won two ARTGO races in 1993 (June 26 Dickinson County, October 10 LaCrosse), two ARTGO races in 1994 (September 17 Wisconsin International, September 18 Madison International), and took ARTGO victory in 1995 (July 12 at LaCrosse). Matt also won the July 15, 1995 Wisconsin International event of the annual "Red, White & Blue" Late Model classic. Kenseth concentrated in 1996 on the USAR Hooters Cup Late Model series, placing third in points. In limited efforts, Matt ranked 47th in NASCAR ALL-PRO points in 1994, 29th in 1995 and 43rd in 1996, as well as 93rd in 1996 NASCAR Busch Grand National points. Kenseth's Rockingham BGN victory ended a four-race Rockingham BGN win streak for Mark Martin, Roush Racing, and Ford! The most recent previous Chevrolet Rockingham BGN win was scored by Todd Bodine on October 21, 1995. Kenseth's win brought the total of wins by "BGN" drivers (those not active at the time or previously in Winston Cup) to six in thirty Rockingham BGN races. Previous "BGN driver" wins were scored by Sam Ard (1984), Brett Bodine (1985), Rob Moroso (1989), Steve Grissom (1990) and Ward Burton (1992). Chad Little and Todd Bodine were the 1995 Rockingham BGN racewinners but had considerable prior experience in Winston Cup although they were primarily BGN competitors in 1995. Kenseth became the 17th driver to win in the 30 Rockingham BGN events. Mark Martin leads in Rockingham BGN wins with nine; Dale Earnhardt has four, Harry Gant and Morgan Shepherd two apiece. Ford still leads in Rockingham BGN victories with 10; Pontiac has seven, Buick and Chevrolet five apiece and Oldsmobile three. Matching the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup performance of its Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chevrolet's Camaro has now won the first two 1998 NHRA Funny Car events! In the first all-Camaro Funny Car final ever, Chuck Etchells (Kendall Oil) defeated Ron Capps (Copenhagen), the winner of the season-opener!

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Series General
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Brett Bodine , Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Darrell Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Todd Bodine , Ron Capps , Chad Little , Chuck Etchells , Steve Grissom , Morgan Shepherd , Harry Gant , Mark Martin