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ARCA: Adam Petty Earns ARCA Charlotte Honors

1 October 1998

By Don Radebaugh

Like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him fourth generation driver Adam Petty etched his own name into the stock car history books. Petty, in his first ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series start, thrilled his native North Carolinians when he held off veteran Mike Wallace by a half car length to win the EasyCare Certified 100 Wednesday night under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

At 18 years and three months the Thomasville, North Carolina driver became the youngest ARCA superspeedway winner in history surpassing his father Kyle in that honor who was 18 years and eight months when he won the Daytona ARCA 200 in 1979, also in his first ARCA start.

"Winning this ARCA race is the biggest thing that ever happened to me," said Petty afterwards. "That was the most emotional victory lane I've ever been in. I can't say enough for my dad, and to win with him standing in my pit tonight with my mom watching on the backstraightaway and my grandmother and grandfather and all my aunts and uncles here and all the Winston Cup guys watching, it's unreal. I sat here last year and said 'come on dad, let me run an ARCA race here' and my mom wasn't much on it but we finally got to do it, and all this does now is help your career."

ARCA rookie Bobby Hamilton, Jr., aboard the Sho-Lodge Chevrolet, finished third followed by Mark Gibson's JaniKing Ford and rookie Gus Wasson, in the Stock Car Steel & Aluminum Chevrolet, to complete the top five. It was Wasson's second consecutive fifth place finish in ARCA competition in only his second start.

After winning his first ARCA pole award on Monday with a speed of 177.836 mph, Darrell Lanigan led at the onset before the red flag halted the race on the eighth lap to clean up a multi-car accident on the backstretch involving the cars of Bill Baird, Cavin Councilor, Jon Kerley, Norm Benning, David Boggs, Howard Rose and Mike Jaynes. No injuries were reported and when racing resumed, Lanigan again showed the way up through lap 29 before Petty, in his Spree-Prepaid Pontiac, made a daring three-wide maneuver in traffic off turn two to take the lead. Wallace soon out-dueled Lanigan for second with Gibson and Wasson trailing in fourth and fifth. Petty continued to lead until the race complexion changed drastically when all the leaders came down pit road during a lap 38 caution for fuel and tires. Second generation driver Hamilton, in the Sadler Brothers Chevy, won the race off pit road with Petty, Gibson, Wasson and Wallace trailing. Hamilton led the next six laps before Petty drove his Pontiac to the outside of the leader and made the winning pass off turn four. "I scared myself there passing him on the outside off turn four because I've heard from my father and grandfather you shouldn't do that here, but we got away with it." Wallace then put forth a spirited charge and raced his way into second, but not before Petty had built a sizeable lead. But the veteran driver, subbing for the injured Jeff Finley in the Exxon-Superflo Chevy, soon tracked down the leader and lined himself up with Petty's back bumper as the race neared conclusion. Wallace followed Petty bumper-to-bumper before making his move on the final corner of the last lap. With the crowd standing, Wallace went with his only option and drove to the high-side of Petty as they entered the frontstretch only to fall short by less than a car length at the checkered flag.

Petty, earning the largest payday of his career, received $21,250 for his effort part of which included the Auto Value Parts Stores Halfway Leaders award. Rookie Jaynes was credited with the BSR 2nd Round Fastest Qualifier honors and Glen Morgan won the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions. John Kinder was the STP-Prestone Highest Finishing Rookie.

Series Point Leaders: Frank Kimmel 5465, Mark Gibson 4965, Bob Strait 4775, Bill Baird 4255, Jeff Finley 4145, Andy Belmont 4100, Norm Benning 3585, Curt Piercy 3540, David Boggs 3410, Brian Conz 3315.