From NASCAR to Busch to Trucks...Off-road and On-road Chevrolet Dominated '98 Race Series
11 December 1998DETROIT, Mich. -- Since the 1955 introduction of Chevrolet's small-block engine, the red bow tie has been in the forefront of North American motorsports competition. Conventional archives indicate some 10,600-plus victories in more than 60 racing series. If results from the hundreds of individual short-tracks across the country were included, the Chevrolet victory count would soar even higher.
In 1998, Chevrolet racers boosted the total with 645 trips to the winner's circle through the end of October, taking more checkered flags than any other manufacturer. As the season-end awards banquets take place, Chevrolet's winning story is becoming more apparent as numerous manufacturers' cups and drivers' championships are handed out to various Chevy teams.
It has been a banner year for Chevrolet off the race track, as well. The recent introduction of the 1999 Silverado full-size pickup -- the single highest volume product GM offers -- has gained Chevrolet a lot of attention. Motor Trend Magazine awarded the Silverado its 1999 Motor Trend Truck of the Year award; Four Wheeler magazine gave the Silverado its prestigious Four Wheeler of the Year trophy; and Sport Truck Magazine honored the Silverado with its top spot as Sport Truck of the Year.
To continue the Silverado's winning streak, Chevrolet will introduce the full-size pickup to various motorsports venues in 1999 including the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series and Championship Off Road Racing (CORR).
Other new Chevy products to hit the track next season include the all-new Monte Carlo -- a sure bet to carry on Chevrolet's domination in NASCAR Winston Cup -- and the fifth generation Corvette, which is making its return to endurance racing with the C5-R Corvette, a GM factory-engineered program.
The introduction of new products to the race track gives Chevrolet an added advantage going into 99. After a victorious '98, the momentum toward the winner's circle is already in place. Those successes this past season covered a variety of venues, including:
NASCAR WINSTON CUP
- Chevrolet's Team Monte Carlo: 1998 Manufacturers Championship
- Jeff Gordon, #24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo: 1998 Champion
- Monte Carlo most successful nameplate in Winston Cup history with 264 wins
- Mike Skinner, #31 Lowes Monte Carlo: Wins in Japan for second consecutive year
The 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup season belonged to Jeff Gordon and his band of Rainbow Warriors. Led by veteran crew chief Ray Evernham, the Rainbow Warriors and Gordon's multi-colored No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo gave Chevrolet its 20th drivers championship in NASCAR's 50th season.
Gordon tied Richard Petty's modern-era record of 13 victories in a season en route to his third driver's championship in the past four years and the fourth straight for Hendrick Motorsports. By winning the NASCAR Winston Cup season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Gordon wrapped up the 1998 manufacturers' championship for Team Monte Carlo.
It went down to the final race, but Chevrolet edged out Ford 240-235 for the '98 crown. Gordon scored manufacturers' points for Team Monte Carlo in 23 of 33 races and ended up with 177 of Chevy's 240 points (73.75 percent).
Chevrolet has won 13 of the past 16 manufacturers' championships and 21 of 27 in NASCAR's modern era that began in 1972.
Gordon clinched the Winston Cup drivers' championship the previous week with a victory at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham. He finished the season with 5,328 points -- 364 more than runner-up Ford driver, Mark Martin.
Team Monte Carlo drivers won 16 races to Ford's 15 in 1998. Gordon led the way with 13 wins, while seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt broke his Daytona 500 winless streak after 19 tries and finished eighth in the series' standings. The legendary driver of the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Plus Monte Carlo has finished in the top 10 in the final point standings in 15 of the last 16 seasons, including six straight years.
Two-time champion Terry Labonte won at Richmond in the No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo and finished ninth in the series' standings -- his fifth straight year in the top 10.
Bobby Hamilton, driver of the No. 4 Kodak Max Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo, rounded out the top 10 in the final series' standings. He dominated en route to victory at Martinsville and finished among the top 10 for only the second time in his career.
But Gordon and his Rainbow Warriors refused to lose more than ever in '98. The 27-year-old Vallejo, Calif., native scored his 42nd career victory in 189 career starts (.222 winning percentage).
He also scored 28 top-10 finishes in 33 races and won three of the final four events. He finished in the top five in 19 of the final 20 races, and after just six full seasons on the circuit, Gordon's 42 career wins rank him 13th on the all-time win list.
He's the seventh driver in NASCAR Winston Cup history to win three or more titles and is the youngest driver to ever win three championships. Gordon's the only driver in the modern era to win 10 or more races in three consecutive years.
Chevrolet drivers have won eight of nine championships in the '90s. Earnhardt won in 1990, '91, '93 and '94. Gordon captured the title in '95,'97 and '98 in a Monte Carlo -- the most successful nameplate in NASCAR history with 264 career victories. The Ford Thunderbird ranks a distant second with 191 career wins. The Monte Carlo returned to the track in 1995, and Chevrolet drivers have won four straight championships since its return. Those four titles came from Hendrick Motorsports drivers with Gordon and Labonte. No car owner has ever won four straight titles.
Darrell Waltrip leads all Team Monte Carlo drivers with 48 victories, while Earnhardt and Gordon are tied with 40 each. As for the nameplate leader, Chevrolet leads all makes in NASCAR's modern era with 344 victories in 808 starts (.426 winning percentage) over Ford's 204 wins (.252 winning percentage).
Mike Skinner, driver of the No. 31 Lowes Monte Carlo for car owner Richard Childress, won his second straight exhibition race in Japan. The 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year edged Gordon in the NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi - Coca-Cola 500, held at Twin Ring Motegi, to wrap up the '98 campaign for Team Monte Carlo.
NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOC. (NHRA) WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES
- Camaro Z28 Funny Cars lead all other brands with eight title wins
- All three Camaro Funny Car drivers finish season in top five
- Larry Kopp, Accurate Binding Chevy S-10: 1998 Pro Stock Truck Champion
- Chevy drivers dominate to round out top five spots in Pro Stock Truck division
The Camaro Z28 body demonstrated its aerodynamic dominance over the Mustang by capturing eight of the 22 Top Fuel Funny Car titles in 1998, more than any other brand. Ron Capps, in the Don Prudhomme-owned Copenhagen Camaro, won five of those titles in only his second year in the Funny Car ranks and finished second in the championship. Veteran Chuck Etchells, in the Kendall/MaMa Rosas Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28, claimed the other three.
The 1998 Funny Car season saw a tight battle for the championship among Capps, Etchells, John Force in a Mustang, and Cruz Pedregon in a Pontiac. Both Capps and Etchells held the points lead this season, but Force was consistently nipping at their heels. A number of unusual mechanical problems in the Capps camp prevented better results in the final half of the season, allowing Force to move to the front and win his eighth championship. Capps, however, brought the chase to the final event but could not pull off an upset as he was eliminated in the first round of the Winston Finals by Etchells, who went on to win the event.
Etchells finished the year fourth in points. Whit Bazemore, who switched from a Mustang to the Team Winston Camaro Z28 mid-season, ended up fifth in points.
In the inaugural Pro Stock Truck season, Chevy S-10s dominated this new class, winning nine of the 12 events and establishing national elapsed time and top speed records. Larry Kopp, in the Accurate Binding/Arma Coatings/G-Force Transmissions Chevy S-10, won five titles and set a record 7.594-second elapsed time. John Lingenfelter, in the Summit Racing Equipment Chevy S-10, won one title and holds the top speed record of 178.32 mph. Chevy S-10 drivers claimed the top five positions in points: Kopp, Lingenfelter, Brad Jeter, Bob Panella, Jr., and Jerry Haas.
The Pro Stock Truck division has proven its popularity after the first official year of competition and will expand to 14 events in the 1999 season.
In his first year driving a Camaro Z28 in Pro Stock, Kurt Johnson won two titles in his ACDelco Camaro, placing third in championship points. Chevrolet supported three Pro Stock teams in 1998: Johnson; Larry Morgan in the Raybestos Camaro (who will not race a Chevrolet in 1999); and basketball star Tom Hammonds, in the Winnebago/Kendall/Matco Tools Camaro.
Chevrolet also supported two Top Fuel Dragster teams: Larry Dixon's Miller Lite Top Fuel Dragster and Cristen Powell's Team Reebok entry. Dixon won the season-opening event in Pomona. While Powell won no titles, she established a track record at Seattle International Raceway with a 4.590-second pass at 299.80 mph, making her NHRA's "Quickest Woman in the World," at 19 years of age.
For the 1999 season, a new Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Pro Stock team has been added: the Dewco Sales-sponsored entry from JK Racing, driven by Mike Edwards. Chevrolet will also enter the 1999 Federal-Mogul Series for sportsman racers with two Camaro bodies, for Jay Payne and Tony Bartone.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES
- Chevrolet C/K 1500: 1998 Manufacturer Champion
- Ron Hornaday, #16 NAPA Brake Chevrolet C-1500: 1998 Driver Champion
- Chevrolet wins 15 of 27 races
Despite increased competition from rivals Ford and Dodge, Chevrolet once again claimed both the Manufacturer and Driver Championship titles for the fourth consecutive year. The see-saw battle between Ron Hornaday and Jack Sprague went down to the final two laps of the 27-race season with Hornaday taking the title over Sprague by just three points, 4072 to 4069. Hornaday led all drivers in total laps led with 881. Sprague led all drivers with five pole positions.
Chevrolet drivers claimed a total of 15 wins, led by Hornaday with six and Sprague with five. Veteran drivers, Rick Carelli and Jay Sauter, chipped in one win each. A highlight of the season and a glimpse of the future saw Chevy's young lions, Andy Houston and Terry Cook, take their Chevys to the winner's circle for their first series' wins, respectively.
The 1998 season marked the end of competition for Chevrolet's dominating C/K full-sized pickup whose four-year track record included a total of 65 wins in the 97 NASCAR races held since the series started in Phoenix in 1995. The C/K will be replaced in 1999 by the all-new Chevrolet Silverado.
The Silverado, which is undergoing wind tunnel and track testing, will again be campaigned by veteran teams from Richard Childress Racing, Dale Earnhardt Inc., Hendrick Motorsports and other leading independents .
NASCAR BUSCH GRAND NATIONAL
- Chevrolet's Team Monte Carlo: 1998 Bill France Performance (Mfg) Cup
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #3 ACDelco Monte Carlo: 1998 Driver Champion
- Andy Santerre, #47 Monro Monte Carlo: 1998 Rookie of the Year
The 24-year-old driver known as Little E, son of seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, became the first third generation champion in NASCAR history. Earnhardt Jr.'s grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, won the 1956 championship in the Sportsman division, Busch's predecessor.
At the wheel of the No. 3 ACDelco Monte Carlo owned by Theresa Earnhardt, Little E claimed his championship on the strength of seven wins, 16 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes in 31-races.
Chevrolet Monte Carlo captured 23 race wins in 1998 compared to six by Ford Taurus.
The red bow tie dominance was further shown by the performance of Andy Santerre, who walked away with the 1998 Rookie of the Year title behind the wheel of the No. 47 Monro Monte Carlo owned by Innovative Motorsports.
CHAMPIONSHIP OFF ROAD RACING (CORR)
- Chevrolet C/K 1500: 1998 Borg-Warner Mfg. Championship Award, Pro-2
1998 Borg-Warner Mfg. Championship Award, Pro-4
- Ricky Johnson, Herzog Motorsports Chevrolet C-1500: 1998 Pro-2 Driver Champion
- Jack Flannery, Flannery Racing Chevrolet K-1500: 1998 Pro-4 Driver Champion
- Jamie Flannery, Flannery Racing Chevrolet K-1500: 1998 Governors Cup winner
- Chevrolet trucks win 24 of 32 races
Driving a powerful pair of Chevrolet C/K trucks, Ricky Johnson and Jack Flannery clinched the Pro-2 (2WD) and Pro-4 (4WD) divisional championship titles, respectively, giving the red bow tie a complete sweep of the full-size truck divisions.
Johnson, rookie driver of the Herzog Motorsports two-wheel-drive Chevy truck, scored six wins during the 1998, eight-city, 16-event tour. He ousted defending champion, Ford driver Scott Taylor, with a final point tally of 261-214.
Flannery, an icon in the sport of short-course off-road competition, piloted his four-wheel-drive Chevy truck to 11 checkered flags en route to the Pro-4 crown. He beat his closest rival for the title, his son Jamey Flannery, by a narrow point margin of 228-218.
In the annual showdown among professional off-road drivers in 4X4 and two-wheel drive trucks, Jamey Flannery outran the competition to collect the prestigious 1998 Governor's Cup, named in honor of the Governor of Wisconsin.
Chevy C/K trucks, teams and drivers captured 24 of 32 possible wins in both Pro-2 and Pro-4 competition. This impressive performance netted Chevrolet the coveted Borg-Warner Manufacturers Championship Award in both the two and four-wheel-drive classes.
PIKES PEAK INTERNATIONAL HILL CLIMB
. Larry Ragland, Herzog Motorsports Chevy S-10: 1st Place Super Stock Truck division
. Gary Lee Kanawyer, Chevrolet Wells Coyote: 4th consecutive 1st Place Open Wheel division
With a style befitting of the 4th of July celebration, veteran off-road driver Larry Ragland topped the 14,110-foot Peak in the Herzog Motorsports all-wheel-drive Chevy S-10 pickup with a fast time of 11-minutes, 37.97-seconds. This was Ragland's first career victory in the Super Stock Truck class.
Ragland's Chevy S-10 handled the 156-turn ascent flawlessly, surpassing seasoned competitor Leonard Vahsholtz, the Ford Explorer driver who placed second with a time of 12:03.29, and Jerry Brady, Jr., who finished third in his Ford Bronco in 12:42.78.
In the Open Wheel division, Gary Lee Kanawyer scored his fourth consecutive Race to the Clouds win in his Chevrolet Wells Coyote with a fast time of 10:57.19.
In addition, Chevrolet racers took honors in the following:
SCORE OFF-ROAD RACING
. Larry Roeseler, Team MacPherson Chevy S-10: Class 7 Champion . Dave Westham, Chevy C/K: Class 8 Champion
SPORTS CAR CLUB OF AMERICA (SCCA) NTB TRANS-AM SERIES
. Chevrolet: 1998 Manufacturer Champion . Paul Gentilozzi, AutoLink Chevrolet Corvette: 1998 Driver Champion . Chris Neville, Chevrolet Camaro: 1998 Rookie of the Year . Chevrolet Corvettes win nine of 13 races
NASCAR WINSTON WEST
. Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1998 Manufacturer Champion . Kevin Harvick, #75 Spears Motorsports Monte Carlo: 1998 Driver Champion . Austin Cameron, #12 Neal Electric/Mar-Con Monte Carlo: 1998 Rookie of the YearNASCAR SOUTHWEST TOUR
. Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1998 Manufacturer Champion . Steve Portenga, #14 Exxon Superflo Monte Carlo: 1998 Driver Champion . Kurt Busch, #70 Star Nursery Monte Carlo, 1998 Rookie of the Year
NASCAR ALL PRO
. Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1998 Manufacturer Champion . Freddie Query, Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1998 Driver Champion
NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL - NORTH
. Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1998 Manufacturer Champion . Mike Stefanik, Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1998 Driver Champion
NASCAR MODIFIED TOUR
. Mike Stefanik, Chevrolet: 1998 Driver Champion
. Steve Carlson, Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1998 Driver Champion . Justin Dierchs, Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1998 Rookie of the Year . Chevrolet Monte Carlo wins 14 of 18 races
AUTOMOBILE RACE CLUB of AMERICA
. Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1998 Manufacturer Champion . Frank Kimmel, Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 1998 Driver Champion . Bill Baird, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1998 Rookie of the Year
During the 1998 season, Chevrolet power also racked up the following:
. All Star Sprints 62 wins . Northern Auto Racing Club 30 wins . Sprint Car Racing Association 33 wins . United States Auto Club Sprints 31 wins . United States Auto Club Silver Crown 12 wins . World of Outlaw Sprints 61 wins