The Callahan Report: Jeff Burton Favored in the Big Texas Show

2 April 1998

By Terry Callahan
The Auto Channel

FORT WORTH, TX: It's time for another BIG show in Texas. The stars of America's hottest racing series head to Fort Worth this weekend. The second annual Texas 500 will get underway at Texas Motor Speedway this Sunday at 2 p.m. (et).

Jeff Burton
Jeff Burton
The favorite heading into the race has to be Jeff Burton driving for Roush Racing. Burton was the winner last year in Texas. While many of NASCAR's best had trouble passing on the 1.5 mile speedway, Burton was able to dominate the late stages of the race. The fact that Burton and the entire Roush Racing team have landed in the top ten several times this season is also in Burton's favor. He is also driving a Ford. The Ford Taurus has been able to stay in front of the pack at nearly every track so far in the 1998 NASCAR season.

Expect the entire Roush team to do well for this second show in Texas. Mark Martin and Ted Musgrave were teammates with Burton last year. The team has two additional member in 98. Johnny Benson and Chad Little are also part of this new "power team". The team shares information well. It could be a sweep of positions one through five for the first time in NASCAR Winston Cup history, with a little luck.

Dale Jarrett
Dale Jarrett
Dale Jarrett will also figure into the mix at Texas. He has one win to his credit already this season. He finished second here last year. Jarrett is also in one of the front running Fords. After starting out the season with an embarrassing mishap in the pits at Daytona, Jarrett is on track. The Robert Yates team always prepares excellent racing machines which will enable Jarrett to challenge for the victory. Jarrett started from the pole in Texas last year.

Jarrett's teammate and rookie standout, Kenny Irwin Jr., is used to tight passing lanes from his sprint and midget racing days. With a Yates prepared car, Irwin could be a dark horse surprise at Texas.

Standing first and second in the Winston Cup points race are Rusty Wallace and Jeremy Mayfield. The two have moved to the front through consistency. Engine problems kept Wallace out of victory lane last weekend at Bristol. A late race spin kept Mayfield out of the top five. Both drivers should be back to challenge at Texas with another consistent run.

Rusty Wallace, Winston Cup Points Leader
Rusty Wallace, Winston Cup Points Leader

Pontiacs should also do well at Texas if last year's race is any indication. The Pontiac body style has changed very little. Leading the Pontiac contingent will be Bobby Labonte. The younger of the racing Labonte brothers, Bobby finished third in the inaugural Texas race. He started from the fourth spot.

Ward Burton, also in a Pontiac, was a top ten finisher last year. He may "team up" with Bobby Labonte to move the Pontiac body work to the front. Labonte will be looking for help since he is one of the few drivers without a teammate. Ward Burton is fast at Texas so he would be a good choice for the "tow job" to the front.

Chevrolet is still struggling to get to the front of the pack. The Monte Carlo has visited victory lane on three occasions so far in 1998, but they were tough drives. They were also "solo" drives. The Chevy teams are having trouble finding any other Chevrolets when they get into the top ten. Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte, and Dale Earnhardt will probably lead the Chevrolet charge, if there is one.

The drivers will be racing for nearly $5 million in total prize money. It is a big purse in a state that is famous for big productions. The facility is first class. The racing will be also.

The Texas 500 will air on CBS television this Sunday, April 5th, at 2 p.m. (et).

Editors Note: The images displayed in this article are available for larger viewing in The Racing Image Galleries and The Visions of Speed Art Gallery

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