NASCAR SJAPS: Query Secures Back-to-Back Greased Lightning All American 400 Wins
20 October 1998Nashville, Tenn. - Butch Miller's done it, so has Jeff Purvis. Before a live TNN viewing audience, Freddie Query added his name to the short list of drivers who have won the lucrative and prestigious All American 400 in consecutive years. Query, the Slim Jim All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring point leader, wrested the lead away from Mike Cope on lap 383 then sailed on to his second Greased Lightning All American 400 win in a row and ninth series win of 1998 at Nashville Speedway, U.S.A. on Sunday afternoon. The Greased Lightning Cleaner Degreaser Chevrolet driver pocketed $24,950 from the $133,010 record purse.
"We're having one of those years you dream about. Hopefully it's a stepping stone to the things we'd like to do in the future. We had a great Hamke race car with a Jeff Hamner engine. We had what we needed at the end. I want to thank Greased Lightning for sponsoring us," stated the 46-year-old driver.
As I was coming down pit road during the final caution I told the guys we're putting on four tires and we're gonna win this race. This car was just as good at the beginning as it was at the end," commented an elated Query.
On Friday afternoon, Dalton, Ga.'s Bobby Gill earned his first Bud Pole Award of 1998, and the sixth of his career. The PGT Windows & Doors/Vinyl-Tech Chevrolet driver outpaced 56 other drivers as he wheeled to a fast lap around the 0.596 mile oval in a time of 18.658 seconds at an average speed of 114.996 mph. Concord, N.C.'s Conrad Burr planted his National Peening Chevrolet in the second position to share the front row with Gill.
Taking full advantage of his starting position, Gill grabbed sole possession of the lead as he and Burr exited turn two on the first lap. Gill paced the field through the early laps with Burr, Steven Christian, Garrett Evans and Hal Goodson falling into single file formation behind Gill. The first caution waved when Goodson and Mike Garvey made contact on lap 12 with Goodson's Nortel/Northern Telecom Chevrolet spinning into the frontstretch wall causing damage to the front of the car including the radiator.
When green flag racing resumed Gill continued to set the pace until lap 52 when Christian edged his BellSouth Chevrolet ahead of Gill's Chevrolet. Gill led the next lap, then Christian took command again on lap 56, proceeding to maintain the top spot until lap 108. Christian and the rest of the leaders pitted at this point, during the race's fourth caution period brought about due to a crash involving Ken Alexander and Ronnie Sanders.
Cope assumed the lead when the others pitted. He then proceeded to lead until Rick Beebe ran him down and took command on lap 166. Beebe captured the $300 Gatorade Front Runner Award for leading on lap 200 then maintained the lead through lap 206. Burr crashed into the turn one wall bringing out the race's seventh caution and the lead lap cars dove into the pits for fresh Hoosier tires and Unocal 76 racing fuel.
Green Bay, Wi.'s Scott Hansen was the first out of the pits and led when green flag racing resumed on lap 212. Query powered by Hansen one lap later and led until lap 294 when Cope again moved out front. One lap earlier Query and Gill made contact on the front straightaway as Query attempted to put the polesitter one lap down. Query's Chevrolet sustained some left front damage then began to lose ground to Cope.
Cope pitted on lap 367 for fuel and Derrick Gilchrist became the seventh driver to lead the 400 lap marathon. Shortly after Gilchrist took the lead the eighth and final caution waved when Steven Christian's BellSouth Chevrolet stalled on the backstretch. This set up the final race strategy for the six cars remaining on the lead lap. All six pitted at this point with all of the leaders taking on two right side tires except for Query and Gary St. Amant who took on all four.
The final green flag period resumed on lap 376 and Cope raced away with his first victory of 1998 in sight. As Cope kept his focus in front of him NASCAR officials focused on the rear of Cope's Chevrolet as smoke emerged in greater volumes from his rear end. All the while Query was ripping through the lead lap cars. He moved by St. Amant for third on lap 381, then by Beebe on 382, then past Cope for the top spot on lap 383. Cope was black flagged shortly thereafter as the smoke spewing from the back of his car increased.
Query maintained the top spot and took the checkered flag on lap 400 ahead of Beebe, Billy Bigley, Jr., Gilchrist and Hansen. The top four were the only cars on the lead lap at the end of the race. St. Amant fell out late with engine failure and Cope wound up eight laps down after having to retire. The sixth through 10th positions fell to Garrett Evans, Steve Mendenhall, Sean Studer, Gill and Steven Howard.
Query covered the 400 laps in a race record of two hours, 32 minutes and 52 seconds at a winning average speed of 93.572 mph. Query's record run eclipsed the previous record of two hours, 47 minutes held by Darrell Waltrip and which was established in 1987 There were a total of 8 caution periods totaling 51 laps and there were 10 lead changes amongst seven drivers. Nineteen of 40 starters were running at the end of the race. Query extended his points lead to 160 points over Goodson with just one event remaining on the 1998 schedule. Gilchrist, Steven Christian and Billy Bigley, Jr. continue to round out the top five.
Richard Petty Driving Experience Pontiac driver Trent Owens endured the 400-lap grind to earn the Rookie-of-the-Race honors for the second time this season. Scott Kilby continues to lead the Rookie-of-the-Year points chase over Ronnie Burkett.
Alex Query picked up the $300 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Crew-Chief-of-the-Race honors for the ninth time this season. Pivotal to the team's success was the call for four tires during the race's last caution. The next event for the Slim Jim All Pro Series, the final event of the 1998 series schedule, will be held at the Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex in Homestead, Fla. on Saturday, November 14. The Homestead 150 will be the 19th event of the season.