NASCAR-SJAPS: Query Quashes Bigley's Victory Quest
14 April 1998South Boston, VA - South Boston Speedway was the site of Saturday night's $44,300 Lowes Foods/Greased Lightning 200 for the Slim Jim All Pro Series, part of NASCAR's Touring Division, and two veterans battled for the win from start to finish leaving the fans clamoring for more. Lap after lap Billy Bigley, Jr. doggedly pursued leader Freddie Query but at the stripe Query was able to hold off the Naples, Fla. Resident by 0.04 seconds to secure his second win in as many races.
In victory lane Query complimented his pursuer's efforts, "Billy gave me all I could handle tonight, and his car was just as good as my W.J. Plemons Insurance Chevrolet, he could have just as easily been the winner. I have to compliment him for racing me clean as well, it isn't often that you race as close as we did for nearly 200 laps and leave the track with all of the fenders intact," the Mooresville, N.C. resident added.
After 30 cars went through Bud Pole qualifying, Raleigh, N.C.'s Derrick Gilchrist picked up his first pole position of 1998 notching the fastest lap in a time of 14.722 seconds equaling a speed of 97.813 mph. In earning his fourth career Bud Pole position Gilchrist also became the third pole winner in as many races this season. Twenty of the 31 starters broke the previous track record of 15.100 seconds which was held by Pinellas Park, Fla.'s Mike Cope.
Query outran Gilchrist into turn one to take the lead at the start of the 200 lap, 80 mile tussle, and as the leaders circled the 0.400 mile oval to complete the first lap Gilchrist slid high in turn four allowing Bigley to duck inside of him to move his Bilstein Shocks/Team ASE Chevrolet into the second position. One lap later the caution waved after Bob Ward spun his mount in turn three, bringing out the first of eight caution flags on lap three.
When the green flag racing resumed on lap three Query and Bigley raced nose-to-tail with Gilchrist in hot pursuit. Gilchrist's victory bid was thwarted early on as his engine expired on lap seven. Greenville, S.C.'s Toby Porter inherited the third position at that point, with rookie Scott Kilby close behind in his Arndt & Herman Windows Pontiac.
The second caution period occurred on lap 21 as Ron Young, 1997 Slim Jim All Pro Series Champion Hal Goodson, and rookie Nevin Jenkins got together, with Young and Goodson going behind the wall for many laps for repairs. Just three laps after green flag racing resumed on lap 28 David Moyer, Mardy Lindley, Conrad Burr and Sean Studer got together going into turn one bringing out the third caution. Burr was done for the evening while Studer also went behind the wall for repairs. Moyer and Lindley were able to continue.
Steven Christian was making his march to the front when he had a right front tire go down on lap 55. With sparks spewing from his BellSouth Chevrolet, and with the field spread out around the track, Christian was unable to duck to the low side of the track to enter the pits. This incident brought out the fourth caution. After these four early cautions things settled down with Query and Bigley continuing to battle for the top spot, with Porter and Kilby doing the same for the third position. This quartet maintained their respective positions throughout the balance of the event, and finished in the same four positions. Zephyrhills, Fla.'s David Reutimann drove his QMI Pontiac to his first top five finish of 1998 after starting 24th. Rounding out the top 10 were Christian, who recovered nicely from his earlier flat tire, Lindley, Randy Gentry, Steve Mendenhall and Dan Matthews. The top eight finishers completed all 200 laps while Mendenhall and Matthews wound up one lap in arrears.
Query maintains his points lead while Christian moves into second dropping Sorrento, Fla.'s Ronnie Burkett to third. Reutimann and Lindley round out the top five while sixth through 10th positions are now held by Goodson, Bigley, Gilchrist, Gentry and Mendenhall.
Kilby's first career top five finish earned him rookie of the race honors and also moved him into a tie for second place in the rookie standings with Jenkins. Burkett continues to lead the two by nine points.
Crew chief Alex Query managed his family team's effort to victory lane for the second week in a row and in the process earned the Jasper Engines & Transmissions Crew Chief Challenge and the $300 check to go with it. The Lowes Foods/Greased Lightning 200 will be broadcast tape delayed on April 25 at 4:00 p.m. on Home Team Sports, Fox Sports South and The Sunshine Network.
The next event for the Slim Jim All Pro Series is Saturday night, April 18 at St. Augustine Speedway in St. Augustine, Fla. The Winn Dixie 200 is the fourth event of the 19-race 1998 Slim Jim All Pro Series Schedule and marks the second year in a row that the series will conduct a race at the 0.500 mile oval.