1997 Interstate Batteries 500
|Race 6 of 32 in the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season|
Map of the track
|Date||April 6, 1997|
|Location||Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
1.5 mi (2.4 km)
|Distance||334 laps, 501 mi (806.281 km)|
|Weather||Temperatures reaching up to 71.6 °F (22.0 °C); wind speeds up to 14 miles per hour (23 km/h)|
|Driver||Dale Jarrett||Yates Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Terry Labonte||Hendrick Motorsports|
The 1997 Interstate Batteries 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series stock car race held on April 6, 1997, at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The race was the inaugural Cup Series race at the track, and it was the first time Interstate Batteries served as a sponsor for NASCAR. The race was the sixth of the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. The pace car was the Chevrolet Monte Carlo Z34 with a 3.8L engine, the first of its kind to serve as a pace car. As qualifying was canceled due to rain, the pole position was awarded to points leader Dale Jarrett of Yates Racing. Terry Labonte of Hendrick Motorsports led the most laps with 104, while Roush Racing's Jeff Burton won the race.
As a result of the rain, besides qualifying being canceled, many of the track's parking lots were flooded. Track owner Eddie Gossage received help from the Texas Department of Transportation, which closed down a portion of Texas State Highway 170 to use it as a parking lot. Although the parking lot issue was solved, traffic concerns arose, and on race day, by 8 AM, traffic on Interstate 35W stopped 16 miles south of the track. Due to the traffic, pianist Van Cliburn, who was scheduled to perform the national anthem at the race, had his helicopter delayed and could not perform.
The race started with a 13-car crash on the first lap. The crash was the first in a wreck-laden race, with ten cautions and 73 laps under the yellow flag, the most in track history. Late in the race, Jeff Burton took the lead, and led the final 58 laps of the race to win his first career Cup race. Dale Jarrett finished second, followed by Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, and Ricky Rudd.
Top ten finishers
- 99-Jeff Burton
- 88-Dale Jarrett
- 18-Bobby Labonte
- 5-Terry Labonte
- 10-Ricky Rudd
- 3-Dale Earnhardt
- 22-Ward Burton
- 4-Sterling Marlin
- 21-Michael Waltrip
- 41-Steve Grissom
Standings after the race
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- "Interstate History & Milestones". Interstate Batteries. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- "Chevrolet Monte Carlo Paces Texas Motor Speedway's First Race". The Auto Channel. 1997-03-27. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- "Interstate Batteries 500". Derrike Cope. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- Aumann, Mark (2011-07-15). "Retro: Traffic issues date back to early days of NASCAR". NASCAR. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- "1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Recap". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- Beaver, Dan (2012-11-01). "NASCAR Picks Pack: Texas". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- "1997 Interstate Batteries 500". Racing-Reference. Retrieved 2013-07-03.