NASCAR's stars ready to "circle" Japan MOTEGI CITY, Japan (Nov. 18, 1998) Sunday's 201-lap '98 NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi - Coca-Cola 500 at the Twin Ring Motegi will be NASCAR's first international race run on an oval track and the final...
NASCAR's stars ready to "circle" Japan
MOTEGI CITY, Japan (Nov. 18, 1998) Sunday's 201-lap '98 NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi - Coca-Cola 500 at the Twin Ring Motegi will be NASCAR's first international race run on an oval track and the final race of NASCAR's 50th Anniversary season.
A select field of more than 30 competitors from all around the world and a variety of motorsports have entered -- including no fewer than 11 former NASCAR champions that includes the reigning champs of NASCAR's three premier series, is set to compete.
The teams, currently in the midst of an arduous trip to the Far East, will race for more than $1,000,000 in total awards, with the winner collecting approximately $140,000 for taking the checkered flag first following the 500-kilometer event.
The garage at the Twin Ring Motegi facility opens at 7 a.m. local time (14 hours ahead of EST) on Friday with the 90-minute initial practice set to start at 2 p.m. Qualifying for the event begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday following a two-hour practice session at 9:30 a.m. There will only be one round of qualifying with each driver getting one lap to decide his starting position.
The qualifying order will be determined by a drawing at a special reception held on Friday evening. Drivers who are unable to attend the reception will be assigned qualifying order positions. The final "Happy Hour" practice session will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, giving the teams a final chance to get the cars ready for the race.
The field will take the green flag for the third annual "demonstration event" in Japan at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. The previous two editions of the NASCAR Thunder Special were held on the road course at Suzuka Circuitland.
Television viewers in the U.S. will see the '98 NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi - Coca-Cola 500 live on Superstation TBS on Saturday evening at 10.
NASCAR race teams will be facing a situation they haven't seen since early March as snow flurries are expected on Friday. The weather forecast for the weekend is a chilly one, with highs only getting into the low 50s and the lows near freezing.
The NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi - Coca-Cola 500 will feature stars from several NASCAR divisions, including three recently-crowned 1998 titlists: NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday and NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division champion Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In addition, seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt and 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace -- who won the original NASCAR Thunder Special at Suzuka in 1996 -- will compete.
Among the other NASCAR champions in the field include three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip, who will replace Dale Jarrett in his Robert Yates Racing Ford; former NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Bill Elliott; former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion and defending race winner Mike Skinner; former NASCAR Winston West Series champ Butch Gilliland; former Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring champ Ricky Craven; and former Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring champ Kelly Tanner.
Four Japanese champion drivers will also compete in American stock cars in the event.
Source: NASCAR Online