NASCAR SJAPS: Query Scores Again at Myrtle Beach
14 June 1998Myrtle Beach, S.C. - For the second time in his career Mooresville, N.C.'s Freddie Query bested a stellar field of Slim Jim All Pro Series drivers at Myrtle Beach Speedway to win the $46,600 Harris Teeter 250 on Saturday night. The win was worth $9,775 to the driver of the Greased Lightning Cleaner Degreaser Chevrolet and allowed the 46-year-old points leader to further extend his lead in the Slim Jim All Pro Series points standings, which is part of NASCAR's Touring Division. It was Query's 12th career win moving him into a tie for second on the career wins list with Jody Ridley. Mike Cope leads the win list with 14 career wins.
Just as was the case three weeks ago at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo., Query's winning effort was assisted by the crew of Jack Sprague's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team. "I had a little close call there on my pit stop. I came in and changed four tires. These guys got me on out. It's just a great feeling to have them to be able to do that. I want to thank all of these guys for coming on down to help us on this pit stop tonight," he stated in victory lane. "We had another close call coming out of two when Ron Young had his trouble but we got through it and here we are again," he added.
Query started off the night right by notching his third Bud Pole Award of the year as he outpaced 44 other drivers with a lap time of 19.587 seconds which equated to an average speed of 98.882 mph. It was Query's fourth career Bud Pole and moved him into a tie for fifth on the career poles chart, sharing the position with five other drivers. Query bested Billy Bigley, Jr. by 0.022 seconds to relegate Bigley to the outside front row starting position. The two are now tied for most 1998 poles in the chase for the $3,000 award which goes to the driver earning the most Bud Poles during the 1998 season.
At the drop of the green flag Query and Bigley sped off nose-to-tail and quickly put some distance between themselves and the rest of the field. Throughout much of the first half of the race Query, Bigley, Bobby Gill, Hal Goodson and Scott Riggs sped along, appearing to simply be putting laps on the board prior to expected pit stops for tires and fuel near the race's halfway point.
On lap 84 Jason Mignogna's Chevrolet came to rest against the wall in turn two bringing out the fifth caution flag of the event and strategies began to unfold. Gill pitted for right side tires and shortly after green flag racing resumed on lap 93 Riggs' Chevrolet was showing smoke from a tire rub which forced the Bahama, N.C. driver to the pits for some sheet metal work. At this point the top five consisted of Query, Bigley, Young, Steve Mendenhall and Steven Christian.
The next caution occurred on lap 121 when Scott Kilby looped his Arndt & Herman Windows Pontiac coming out of turn two. This sent many of the leaders into the pits for mid-race pit stops and Young's crew got his NASCAR SpeedPark Chevrolet out ahead of Bigley to restart directly behind Query in the fourth position. The green waved again on lap 130 and Mendenhall was quickly chased down by Query and Young. While Mendenhall was attempting to hold off Query, Young sped by the duo on the outside and grabbed the lead on lap 133 just in time to earn the Gatorade Frontrunner Award for leading the fifth consecutive green flag lap after the caution period. Young then moved out to a 10 car length advantage and was moving through lapped cars with ease.
Disaster struck on lap 196 when Conrad Burr spun his National Peening Chevrolet on the backstretch. Young made heavy contact with Burr as he tried to elude the spinning car and both were done for the night. Query narrowly escaped the melee and survived three additional caution periods to record his series-leading fourth win of the season. Query outdistanced local favorite and 1997 Slim Jim All Pro Series Champion Hal Goodson by 0.17 seconds as the Nortel/Northern Telecom Chevrolet had all he could handle in holding off Dalton, Ga.'s Gill for second. David Reutimann finished fourth and was the last car on the lead lap while Mardy Lindley completed the top five. Rounding out the top 10 were Jimmy Cope, Riggs, Kilby, Ronnie Burkett and Charles Powell, III.
Of the 250 laps run 66 laps were eaten up during 11 caution periods and the race was run in two hours, two minutes and 18 seconds. Query's winning average speed was 65.985 mph. There were three lead changes among three drivers.
Query maintains his points lead as a result of his second win in as many weeks but the second through fifth points positions have tightened measurably. Reutimann and Goodson are now tied for the second position with 1137 points while Bigley drops from third to fourth after his Bilstein Shocks/Team ASE Chevrolet developed problems late in the race. Bigley trails the two by six points while Derrick Gilchrist, as a result of a last place finish, drops from second to fifth position and trails Bigley by 19 points. Rounding out the top 10 are Christian, Kilby, Lindley, Burkett and Young.
With his eighth place finish Statesville, Ga.'s Kilby grows his lead in the Rookie-of-the-Year standings by one over Burkett. Kilby now has 64 points to Burkett's 61.
Buoyed by the might of Jack Sprague's pit crew, Alex Query picked up $300 from Jasper Engines & Transmissions to earn the Crew Chief Challenge award for the fourth time this season. He now leads Robert Hamke by 20 points in the season long crew chief chase.
The next event for the Slim Jim All Pro Series is Wednesday night, July 1 at Lanier Natinoal Speedway in Gainesville, Ga. The Gerber Foods 200 will be the ninth event on the 19-race Slim Jim All Pro Series schedule.