AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN MARCH 9, 1998 Pontiac scored its first victory of the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup season as Bobby Labonte (Interstate Batteries Gibbs Pontiac Grand Prix) won Monday's rain-delayed Atlanta PRIMESTAR...
AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN
MARCH 9, 1998
Pontiac scored its first victory of the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup season as Bobby Labonte (Interstate Batteries Gibbs Pontiac Grand Prix) won Monday's rain-delayed Atlanta PRIMESTAR 500. The victory was Labonte's sixth in Winston Cup, the last three at the Atlanta track. Bobby's first Winston Cup wins, in 1995, came in Charlotte's 600 and in both Michigan races. In 1996 and 1997, he won the November Atlanta events. Bobby has thus won three of the last four Atlanta NASCAR Winston Cup events, becoming the first driver to "win 3 of 4" at the track in Winston Cup. The current two-race win streak at Atlanta for Bobby and the Joe Gibbs team puts them in some heady company: only nine such streaks have been achieved by teams and drivers in Atlanta Winston Cup events. The Wood Brothers first won two straight at Atlanta, in 1965, with Marvin Panch. Junior Johnson achieved the feat with Bobby Allison in 1972. The Wood Brothers achieved the milestone a second time with David Pearson in 1973. Petty Enterprises and Richard Petty won two straight in 1974-75. Bill Elliott and the Melling/Elliott team won both 1985 events. Dale Earnhardt and the RCR team won two straight in 1989-1990 and again in 1995-1996. Junior Johnson won both 1992 events with Bill Elliott. No driver or team has won three consecutive Atlanta events, a mark Labonte and Gibbs will seek to achieve in November. The March 9 victory for Pontiac was its earliest in a Winston Cup season since Rusty Wallace won in the Penske Grand Prix on February 28, 1993 at Rockingham. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) won Sunday's Melbourne Australian Grand Prix World Driver Championship F1 race, his second consecutive victory in the series joining his victory in the 1997 season finale. Mika's McLaren won on Bridgestone tires as Goodyear's six-season "season sweep" streak ended (1992-1997). The victory also ended a World Championship-record 109-race Goodyear winning streak. The last non-Goodyear win? June 2, 1991 at Montreal by Nelson Piquet in a Benetton B190-Cosworth Ford HB on Pirellis. Bridgestone is only the eighth tire manufacturer to win a World Championship event, joining (in chronological order) Pirelli, Continental, Englebert, Dunlop, Goodyear, Firestone, and Michelin. The most recent pre-Bridgestone first-time World Championship win by a tire manufacturer? January 29, 1978 at Jacarepagua by Carlos Reutemann in a Ferrari 312T2 on Michelins. The season finale-season opener win streak has been achieved thirteen times before. Alberto Ascari achieved it in 1952-53, Juan Manuel Fangio in 1953-54 and 1955-56, Stirling Moss in 1957-58 and 1960-61, Bruce McLaren in 1959-60, Graham Hill in 1962-63, Jimmy Clark in 1967-68, Niki Lauda in 1975-76, Alan Jones in 1980-81, Alain Prost in 1984-85 and 1986-87, and Damon Hill in 1995-96. Former RCR Winston Cup crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine scored his first race-driving victory Friday in the rain-shorted ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Atlanta Easycare 300. Kirk won driving the Ken Appling Chevrolet Monte Carlo; he has been making sporadic efforts in the ARCA series and has also driven in NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch Grand National, and Craftsman Truck competition. His best point ranking was 37th in ARCA in 1993. Kirk is the third first-time ARCA winner in the last four Atlanta ARCA events, joining Joe Bessey (November 1996) and Harris DeVane (November 1997). Shelmerdine's victory for Chevrolet gave the Bowtie Brigade the lead in Atlanta ARCA wins with nine to Ford's eight; Pontiac has five, Buick three and Oldsmobile two. Our website at http://members.aol.com/autoracg/ provides a wealth of useful and interesting auto racing information. The site also contains descriptions of the many services and products available from Auto Racing Analysis.