ARA Racefacts Bulletin and Model Review (11/09/97)
10 November 1997
AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN November 9, 1997 If Jeff Gordon (DuPont Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) wins the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup title this coming Sunday at Atlanta, he will achieve a "modern era" (1972-97) NASCAR Winston Cup milestone and tie an all-time (1949-97) record! The milestone? By winning the 1997 title, Jeff will have two Winston Cup championships in his first five Winston Cup seasons, the quickest achievement of multiple Winston Cup titles in the "modern era!" The feat would match the achievement of Herb Thomas, who won two Winston Cup titles, in 1951 and 1953, in his first five Winston Cup seasons (1949-53)! Jeff's first full Winston Cup season (1993) saw him finish 14th in points, while Herb Thomas placed 25th in his (and the series') first season in 1949. In 1994, his second season, Jeff ranked eighth in points, while Thomas' second season, 1950, produced an eleventh-place ranking. Jeff won his first Winston Cup title in his third season, 1995, as Herb Thomas did in his third season, 1951! Jeff's fourth season, 1996, and Herb's fourth season, 1952, produced the same result: a runnerup finish in the championship! Herb then won the 1953 title, completing a three-season 1-2-1 sequence Jeff seeks to emulate! Joe Ruttman (LCI Roush Ford F150) won Sunday's Las Vegas CarQuest Auto Parts 420 K NASCAR Craftsman Truck race, giving Ford a sweep of the 1997 Craftsman Truck series events on superspeedways of 1.5 mile or more! Kenny Irwin, Jr. won for Ford at Homestead and Texas while Mike Bliss won at Fontana and Ruttman completed the sweep with the Las Vegas victory! Ruttman achieved a new record for a Ford Craftsman Truck driver: he's the first Ford pilot to win five races in a Craftsman Truck season, eclipsing Dave Rezendes' achievement of three wins in 1996 driving for Geoff Bodine! Joe is now the all-time leading Ford Craftsman Truck winner with seven victories! With his victory at Las Vegas following last Saturday's Phoenix win, Ruttman now has a two-race Craftsman Truck win streak, the first ever in the series for a Ford driver! Joe, who won twice in the Truck series for Irvan/Simo in 1995 (short track events at Bristol and Martinsville) and was winless in 1996 for Roush, has won in 1997 twice on one-mile superspeedways (DisneyWorld and Phoenix), twice on road courses (Heartland Park and Sears Point), and on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas track! Joe's five wins in 1997 ranked second on the circuit to Ron Hornaday, Jr.'s seven victories. The only other drivers with five or more wins in a Craftsman Truck season? Mike Skinner, with eight wins in the 1995 and 1996 seasons, Hornaday with six wins in 1995, and Jack Sprague with five wins in 1996. Joe, the winner of the DisneyWorld 1997 opener and Las Vegas 1997 season finale, matched Mike Skinner's 1995 feat of winning the season-opener and season finale! The last time Joe won as many as five events in one touring series in one season? 1980, when he won five USAC Stock Car series events! Joe had won five times previously on superspeedways of 1.5 mile or greater! On November 20, 1977 he was the Winston West winner (and 13th-place overall finisher) in the Ontario 500 on the 2.5-mile track. In 1980, he won the USAC Stock Car 250 on the 1.5-mile Trenton speedway on April 13. On July 20, 1980, Joe won ARCA's 200-miler on the two-mile Michigan International Speedway. He completed the 1980 season with a 300 kilometer win at Onatrio on November 15 in a NASCAR Grand American event! On February 7, 1982 Joe won ARCA's 200-miler at Daytona! Drivers named Joe swept the Sunday NASCAR action as Joe Nemechek (Bell South Mobility NEMCO Chevrolet Monte Carlo) won the Homestead Jiffy Lube 300 NASCAR Busch Grand National race! Joe also won in 1997 on another 1.5-mile track, Charlotte! During Joe's 1992 NASCAR Busch GN title season he won on the IRP short track and on the New Hampshire mile; he won in 1994 on Richmond's short track. Nemechek took the USA Late Model series title in 1988 and the ALL-PRO title in 1989. When Bobby Gill (Terminal Transport Chevrolet Monte Carlo) finished second in the 1997 USAR Hooters Cup Late Model season finale, the USA International Discount Auto Parts 250, he won the Hooters Cup title by one point over racewinner Freddie Query (Plemons Chevrolet Monte Carlo) as Query was the series runnerup for the second consecutive year! While Gill was runnerup for the NASCAR ALL-PRO title in 1988, 1992, and 1994 and third in 1990, the 1997 Hooters title is not Gill's first as he won the 1986 ALL-PRO KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) championship title! The KISS series was for "economy" late models! ARA MODEL REVIEW BRUMM 1:43 DIECAST BRIGGS CUNNINGHAM JAGUAR D (LeMANS 1955) This Brumm (R130) model depicts very accurately the #9 Jaguar D type entered by Briggs Cunningham (but loosely as part of the "works" team) in the 1955 LeMans 24 Hours. The Cunningham Jaguar D was the most colorful of the D Jags with its classic "trademark" blue striping on white seen even today on grandson Brian Cunningham's NASCAR Craftsman Truck! Comparison of the model with clear contemporaneous photographs (in Chris Harvey's Jaguars in Competition and Andrew Whyte's Jaguar) verifies the model to be accurate in great detail, correctly representing such details as wheel and tailfin design, windscreen and the exhaust system. The Briggs Cunningham Jaguar D was chassis XKD 507. In the 1955 LeMans 24 Hours, the car was driven by Phil Walters and Bill Spear. As noted by Andrew Whyte in his book Jaguar, "XKD 507 was controlled by the self-contained Cunningham team which had been coming to LeMans with its own cars for the past five years. Indeed on this occasion Briggs Cunningham was once again driving one of his own cars-a somewhat Jaguar-looking machine with a 3-litre Meyer-Drake engine-which expired in the nineteenth hour after a slow run. The team's brand new Jaguar was well-placed (seventh, one lap back, after two hours) initially, driven by Phil Walters. He and Bill Spear retired the car in the sixth hour. Afterwards it was noted at the works that this car's engine failure was "presumed to be due to a piece of air box which broke up getting under a valve." Whyte noted that "This car, considerably modified, would remain in the Cunningham collection once it became obsolete." Whyte's book later noted that "Early in 1987 it was announced that the collection had been sold by Cunningham to Miles Collier." Whyte's book includes a photograph of the car at the "Tribute to Jaguar" race at Laguna Seca in 1976, when "Phil Hill came out of retirement to drive it. He finished second to British visitor Martin Morris who drove XKC 404, another ex-works car." The car was driven by Cunningham and J. Gordon Bennett as #11 in the 1956 Sebring 12 Hours, finishing twelfth overall and fifth in class. As noted by Mike Lawrence in his Directory of Classic Sports-Racing Cars "The 1955 long-nose D-type Jaguar, XKD 507 was driven by Cunningham/Benett (#11) in the 1956 Sebring race. It was delayed by mechanical problems and finished twelfth." As Brumm notes: "The Jaguar D-Type has been the English automotive company's most famous sports racing car. A unibody chassis and a coach developed in the wind tunnel were characteristic of this car." The Jaguar D featured a 3442 cc in-line six-cylinder engine. The Jaguar D's first win came in the July 4, 1954 Reims 12 Hours courtesy of Peter Whitehead and Ken Wharton. This followed a runnerup finish in the 1954 LeMans 24 Hours by Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton. In 1955, Mike Hawthorn and Phil Walters won the Sebring 12 Hours and Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb won the 1955 LeMans 24 Hours with Johnny Claes and Jacques Swaters third in another D type. Hawthorn and Desmond Titterington were running second when they retired from the 1955 Dundrod Tourist Trophy. 1955 also produced Jaguar D wins in lesser events such as Helsingfors (Michael Head), Aintree (Ninian Sanderson), and Silverstone (Duncan Hamilton). Desmond Titterington won the Dundrod Ulster Trophy, the Wicklow Leinster Trophy and the Charterhall Newcastle Journal event! Sherwood Johnston took SCCA wins at Watkins Glen and in the President's Cup. Bob Sweikert and Jack Ensley finished third in a Jaguar D in the 1956 Sebring 12 Hours A Jaguar D won LeMans for the second consecutive year in 1956; the drivers were Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart; other D types finished fourth and sixth. Jaguar D types dominated 1956 SCCA racing and scored many international sports car race wins. In fact, D types were scoring top- and mid-level SCCA and international victories through 1961! In the 1957 Sebring 12 Hours, Hawthorn and Bueb finished third in a D type with Walt Hansgen and Russell Boss fifth in another Jaguar D. For the third consecutive year, a Jaguar D won the LeMans 24 Hours in 1957. Ron Flockhart and Ivor Bueb were the winners as Jaguar D types finished 1-2-3-4-6! Our website at http://members.aol.com/autoracg/ provides a wealth of useful and interesting auto racing information!