ARCA: Gibson, Witham & Studt Take ARCA Touring Titles
20 October 1998ARCA Touring Series titles were doled out recently at the Ambassador Hall in Monroe, Michigan with top honors going to second generation driver Gene Lee Gibson for winning the '98 ARCA Lincoln Welders Midget Series championship and John Witham who was top-gun in the ARCA Lincoln Welders Pro-4 Series. Veteran Bob Studt, who won the '98 ARCA Auto Value Figure-8 Series title, will be officially crowned champion on November 7.
Gibson, working from his Richwood, Ohio-based shop, dominated the midget tour with six victories including two at Flat Rock Speedway, two at Grundy County Speedway and two more at Baer Field Raceway in his familiar purple #0 Gilliand Body Shop VW. Gibson attributed much of his success to his father and open-wheel legend Todd, who wore the same color and number through much of his successful supermodified and USAC sprint career. "I'd like to thank ARCA for a fine club, Lincoln Welders for sponsoring the series and most of all my father, who without him, none of this would have been possible," said Gibson during the awards ceremony. "You know I race for a living and work for a hobby and consider myself very lucky, but there would be no luck without my father who showed me the way and continues to be a huge part of this effort."
Veteran Jerry Nemire, the '97 ARCA Midget champion, finished runner-up to Gibson in points and was also awarded the Performance Profiles Most Popular Driver honors followed by the '98 rookie of the year Todd Sears in third, Dave Baumgartner fourth and Gary Harrell to complete the top five. Eighth in points Chris O'Connell won a Lincoln Electric Welder, one of three that were given away throughout the night by Carl Peters, Director of Motorsports for Lincoln Electric.
John Witham dominated the Pro-4 series much like Gibson did the Midget division posting five victories at Shady Bowl, Flat Rock and Columbus Motor Speedways aboard his Pate Manufacturing-APPCO-Valvoline Ford.
"I'm really fortunate," said Witham. "We had a lot of help with great sponsors and great peolple especially AJ Pate who builds one dynamite race car. We wanted to come out with a real strong effort to win this deal before we go ARCA truck racing next year. We're real excited about the new truck series. I think it's going to be big for everyone."
Robbin Slaughter finished second in points ahead of Bill Withers, Bobby Marvin and Eddy Adams rounding out the top five. Sixth in points Gregg Vasko was voted Performance Profiles Most Popular driver, and Adams, unsure of his racing future, solidified an ARCA truck ride in '99 when his name was pulled from the hopper as winner of a new ARCA truck chassis compliments of Nemire Enterprises and Pate Manufacturing.
Additionally, Don Sheets, father of Pro-4 driver Jeff Sheets, and Slaughter were lucky enough to have their names selected as recipients of new ARCA truck bodies.
Unlike Gibson and Witham, veteran figure-8 ace Studt didn't find victory lane during the '98 ARCA Auto Value Figure-8 Series season, but never finished worse than fourth recording four runner-up finishes along the way. Randy Cronenwett finished just five points back in second followed by '97 series champion Dennis Whisman, Greg Studt and Parker Wade.