1998 National Championship Story

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 16, 1998) In NASCAR's 50th Anniversary year, a Nebraska dirt track driver returned NASCAR racing to its roots, winning the NASCAR Winston Racing Series national championship on a 1/3-mile clay oval. Ed Kosiski, 33,...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 16, 1998) In NASCAR's 50th Anniversary year, a Nebraska dirt track driver returned NASCAR racing to its roots, winning the NASCAR Winston Racing Series national championship on a 1/3-mile clay oval.

Ed Kosiski, 33, from Omaha, won 16 races in 18 starts at Eagle Raceway in Lincoln, Neb. He will be awarded an NWRS record $133,500 on Nov. 6 at the annual NASCAR Winston Racing Series Banquet at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. The champions' banquet will award more than $1.3 million to the national champion and the nine other NWRS regional champions with support from series sponsor Winston and 17 other series sponsors.

Kosiski is scheduled to participate in a live chat session on NASCAR Online on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. EDT. The moderated chat -- during which fans will have an opportunity to post questions that Kosiski will answer on-line -- will be the first for a NASCAR Winston Racing Series national champion.

"Every year after the NASCAR Winston Racing Series champions' banquet I'd go home and think about what it would be like to win a regional championship," the youngest of three racing Kosiski brothers said. "We never dreamed we'd have a chance to win the national championship.

"All the years of ups and downs have been worth it. You've got to struggle. Racing's like raising children. You struggle to do things right, and you find out if you've done it right when you see the finished product."

Kosiski -- who kept track of his progress to the national title via the NWRS standings on NASCAR Online -- had his share of struggles throughout the year at the 1/3-mile Lincoln, Neb., dirt track. Eagle Raceway is known for full fields of strong competitors. After the first race of the season the top-12 drivers according to track points were inverted. Therefore, Kosiski had to earn 15 of his 16 wins from the 12th starting position.

Kosiski also is the first driver from a dirt track to win the NASCAR Winston Racing Series national championship in 11 years. Roger Dolan of Lisbon, Iowa, was the last to accomplish the feat in 1987. Ironically, Kosiski's championship in NASCAR's 50th Anniversary year is reminiscent of NASCAR's early years when most NASCAR races were held on dirt short tracks. In 1982 the first NASCAR Winston Racing Series national champion, Tom Hearst of Muscatine, Iowa, also competed on dirt tracks.

This also is Kosiski's first major NASCAR championship. His older brothers, Steve and Joe, have won 12 NASCAR championships combined, which is one more than even the famed Petty family. Steve has won six championships in the Busch All-Star Series, a part of the NASCAR Touring Division, and Joe has won five Busch All-Star Series championships and the 1986 NASCAR Winston Racing Series national championship. The Busch All-Star Series is NASCAR's only dirt touring series.

Ed's national championship brings the family's total to 13 NASCAR championships.

"I could quit racing tomorrow, but the championship would never go away," said Ed Kosiski.

Kosiski also led the national standings at the half-way part of the season to win the $5,000 Gatorade Front Runner Award, which contributes to his record $133,500. Gatorade, the "Official Sports Beverage of NASCAR," will present the check for the Front Runner Award to Kosiski at the national champion's banquet on Nov. 6 at the Opryland Hotel.

"Ed Kosiski and his family have provided Midwest dirt track fans with exciting competition for many years," said Tom Deery, NASCAR vice president for Winston Racing Series. "Ed's passion for racing is evident when you meet him. Winning the NASCAR Winston Racing Series national championship is a great accomplishment with the strong competition at Eagle Raceway and all of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series tracks."

Providing regional and national recognition and the largest year-end purse available for drivers who compete at their local tracks is the basis for the NASCAR Winston Racing Series. NASCAR officials calculate drivers' performances at their home track in each of the series' 10 regions according to a weighted system called the competition performance index (CPI). The 10 "Regional Track Leaders" are then calculated against each other to determine the national standings.

The regional champions, according to their national ranking, were as follows: 1. Ed Kosiski, Great West Region, Eagle Raceway, Omaha, Neb., .8629820 CPI; 2. Joe Buford, Heartland Region, Nashville (Tenn.) Speedway USA, .8166667; 3. Michael Ray, Pacific Coast Region, Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, .8043280; 4. Charles Powell III, Atlantic Seaboard Region, Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway, .7775137; 5. George Kent Jr., Northeast Region, Tioga Speedway, Owego, N.Y., .7572375; 6. Clay Dale, Sunbelt Region, Lanier National Speedway, Gainesville, Ga., .7560015; 7. Kyle Berck, Midwest Region, Adams County Speedway, Corning, Iowa, .7338647; 8. Pete Silva, Blue Ridge Region, Greenville-Pickens Speedway, Greenville, S.C., .7163472; 9. Steve Murgic, Mid-America Region, Raceway Park, Shakopee, Minn., .6999207; 10. Bobby Gahan, New England Region, Lee (N.H.)USA Speedway, .6804471.

Ed Kosiski resides in Omaha, Neb., with his wife Trish and children Kortney, 8; Michaela, 5; and Tia, 3. He works at his family's business, Kosiski Auto Parts, with his brother Joe, who is the defending Busch All-Star Series champion; and Steve, who also is a former Busch All-Star Series champion.

The NASCAR Winston Racing Series is the country's leading program for weekly short track racing that features nearly 100 of the best short tracks divided into 10 geographic regions. The NWRS, composed of both paved and dirt surfaces of various lengths, provides competitors with regional and national recognition, and a $1.3 million championship point fund based on their performance at a local NASCAR track.

New for 1998, Exide Batteries, Fel-Pro Gaskets, Moog Chassis Parts and NAPA Filters have joined existing sponsors Winston, Champion Spark Plugs, Cintas Uniforms, Earl's Products, Featherlite Trailers, Gatorade, J.E. Pistons, Mechanix Wear, Moroso, Prestone Antifreeze, Raybestos Brakes, STP, Tilton Engineering, and 76 to create the largest payoff in weekly short track racing.

The series' point fund includes $1 million from Winston as well as contributions from the 17 additional contingency program sponsors. Source: NASCAR Online

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Drivers Joe Buford , Michael Ray