NASCAR SJAPS: Porter Prevails at Greenville-Pickens
16 August 1998Greenville, S.C. - August 16, 1998 - When the engine went sour on Mike Cope's Austin Crackers/Travelier Truck Accessories Chevrolet with less than 15 laps to go Greenville, S.C.'s Toby Porter was in the right place at the right time to assume command and go on to victory in the Bi-Lo BonusCard 200 presented by Hi-C Blast at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Porter earned $7,850 of the $44,900 purse to notch his ninth career Slim Jim All Pro Series win, part of NASCAR's Touring Division.
"I don't know if I could have run another five laps," stated an exhausted Porter in victory lane. "During those red flag periods it was so hot in the car. Things got a bit better when we were racing. I want to thank Mac's Auto Glass and Victory Circle Chassis for this victory," he added.
Bud Pole Qualifying was barely completed when the rains came, forcing postponement of the event to Sunday afternoon. Raleigh, N.C.'s Derrick Gilchrist captured his third Bud Pole Award of 1998, and sixth of his career, when he outpaced 35 other Slim Jim All Pro Series drivers on Saturday evening. Gilchrist steered his Hamke Race Cars & Parts Chevrolets around the 0.500 mile oval in a time of 19.725 seconds equating to an average speed of 91.255 mph. Just 0.068 seconds behind was Darlington, S.C.'s Hal Goodson, earning him the opportunity to start alongside Gilchrist on the front row.
The race started at 2:30 p.m. under sunny, hot and humid conditions. Gilchrist jumped into the lead with Goodson, Steven Christian and Billy Bigley, Jr. in tow. Action came to a grinding halt for the entire field on lap 29 when Bigley and Steve Mendenhall came together coming out of turn four. Bigley's Team ASE Chevrolet came to rest on the hood of Mendenhall's Interstate Batteries Chevrolet. This incident brought out the first of two red flag periods. Once the cars were separated racing resumed and Gilchrist continued to set the pace.
On lap 69 Goodson and Gilchrist got together coming out of turn four, with Gilchrist ending up spinning and Goodson taking over the top spot. This brought out the race's fifth caution and the leaders marched into the pits to change tires. Greer, S.C.'s Steven Howard assumed the lead at this point and kept his Greer Flooring Center/Midway Auto Parts Chevrolet out front for 11 laps. On lap 82 Slim Jim All Pro Series points leader Freddie Query, with the benefit of fresher Hoosier tires, took over the top spot.
Query appeared to be heading towards the $300 Gatorade Front Runner Award for leading at lap 100. Unfortunately he was collected in an eight car pileup between turns three and four on lap 99. This produced the second red flag period to clean up the melee. When the cars were righted and placed into their proper running order two-time Slim Jim All Pro Series Champion Mike Cope, making his first series start of 1998, held down the top spot with Porter, Goodson and Query lining up behind him. Cope secured the Gatorade Front Runner Award on lap 118, which represented the fifth consecutive green flag lap after the caution period.
Cope set the pace, and appeared to be on his way to victory, until his motor gave up the ghost and he pulled into the pits on lap 189 with an overheated powerplant. At this point all Porter had to do was hold off Goodson to grab the victory. Goodson maintained the second position while Gilchrist, Bobby Gill and Christian rounded out the top five. Howard, Ronnie Burkett, Jeff Fultz, Randy Gentry and Scott Kilby completed the top 10. All but Kilby finished on the lead lap.
Twenty of the 35 starters were running at the finish of the 200-lap race. The race was run in one hour, 35 minutes and 42 seconds. Porter's winning average speed was 62.696 mph. A total of 10 caution flags encompassing 64 laps slowed the race pace and there were five lead changes among six drivers. For the second week in a row Query's points lead shrunk, this time as a result of a two-lap penalty for intentionally bringing out a caution and an overheating engine. The Mooresville, N.C. resident finished 18 laps off of the pace and now leads Goodson by just 32 points. Gilchrist and Christian moved into the third and fourth positions while Bigley dropped to fifth after his early-race accident.
Burkett drove his Big Daddy's BBQ Sauces & Spices Chevrolet to Rookie-of-the Race honors and narrowed the margin between Kilby and himself to just four points. By keeping Porter cool under pressure, Joey Bishop earned $300 from Jasper Engines & Transmissions for Crew-Chief-of-the-Race honors.
The Bi-Lo BonusCard 200 will be televised on September 7 at 8:00 p.m. eastern time on Fox Sports South. Viewers will also find the race on The Sunshine Network and Home Team Sports. Check local listings for air dates and times.
The next event for the Slim Jim All Pro Series is Friday night, August 28 at Louisville Motor Speedway in Louisville, Ky. The BellSouth 300 will be the 13th event on the 19-race 1998 Slim Jim All Pro Series schedule.