Coca-Cola 500 (Motegi)

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1998 Coca-Cola 500
Race details
Exhibition race in the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Twin Ring Motegi oval map.svg
Date November 22, 1998 (1998-11-22)
Location Twin Ring Motegi, Motegi, Japan
Course Permanent racing facility
1.5 mi (2.5 km)
Distance 201 laps, 311.3 mi (500.9 km)
Weather Temperatures ranging between 5 °C (41 °F) and 10 °C (50 °F)[1]
Average speed 112.558 mph (181.145 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Jeremy Mayfield Penske Racing South
Time 35.116 seconds
Most laps led
Driver Mike Skinner Richard Childress Racing
Laps 94
Winner
No. 31
Mike Skinner
Richard Childress Racing
Television in the United States
Network TBS
Announcers Ken Squier, Buddy Baker, Dick Berggren

The Coca-Cola 500 was an exhibition NASCAR stock car race held on November 22, 1998, during the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. The race took place on the Twin Ring Motegi oval course in the town of Motegi on the main Japanese island of Honshu. It was the third straight year that NASCAR held an exhibition race in Japan, previously hosting races on the Suzuka Circuit in 1996 and 1997. Teams from the Winston Cup Series, Busch Series, Craftsman Truck Series and Winston West Series made the trip to Japan to compete in the race. Four Japanese drivers entered the event, as well. The race was also the first in which Dale Earnhardt and his son, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. competed against one another in a NASCAR race, driving #3 and #1 Coca-Cola Chevrolets, respectively.[2] The pole position was won by Jeremy Mayfield of Penske Racing South, while Mike Skinner of Richard Childress Racing won the race. Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon finished second, while Mayfield finished third.

Background[edit]

Located 60 miles (97 km) northeast of Tokyo,[3] Twin Ring Motegi opened on August 1, 1997.[4] In early 1998, plans to continue hosting the NASCAR Thunder 100 at Suzuka Circuit were cancelled,[5] and as a result, the NASCAR race in Japan was moved to the 1.5 mi (2.4 km) Motegi oval.[6] 28 cars traveled to Japan for the race,[5] and a total of 31 drivers competed in the race, 13 from the Winston Cup Series, 11 from the Winston West Series, 2 from the Busch Series, 1 from the Craftsman Truck Series and 4 from Japan.[7]

Qualifying[edit]

Qualifying took place on November 21. Jeremy Mayfield won the pole position for the race with a lap time of 35.116 seconds, and a speed of 158.799 miles per hour (255.562 km/h), his second pole of 1998. Three-time and reigning Cup champion Jeff Gordon[8] qualified second with 35.122 seconds and 158.772 mph (255.519 km/h), followed by Mike Skinner with 35.162 seconds and 158.592 mph (255.229 km/h).[9] Elliott Sadler and Darrell Waltrip, filling in for the injured Dale Jarrett, rounded out the top five, while Jeff Burton, Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Lance Norick closed out the top ten.[10]

Race[edit]

Although Jeremy Mayfield led the first lap, Jeff Gordon claimed the lead on the ensuing lap and led until lap 21, relinquishing first to Jeff Burton. From laps 28 to 49, the lead would be exchanged by Mike Skinner and Rusty Wallace, with Sterling Marlin, Burton and Mayfield also gaining the lead afterwards. Skinner, Wallace, Burton and Mayfield would all lead laps until lap 90, when Gordon took the lead, holding it for 49 laps. On lap 139, Dale Earnhardt took the lead,[11] but Skinner passed him and Gordon on the following lap, and led for the remainder of the race,[7] defeating Gordon by 0.153 seconds.[8] Gordon, Mayfield, Burton and Wallace comprised the remainder of the top five, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Sterling Marlin and Michael Waltrip finished in the top ten.[11] Scott Gaylord was the highest-finishing Winston West driver, finishing 13th.[12]

Aftermath[edit]

In the post-race press conference, NASCAR president Mike Helton stated that since the three-year Cup Series contract to run in Japan expired after the 1998 race,[6] the Winston West Series would hold the event as the series' season-ending race in 1999;[13] Kevin Richards won the race.[14] However, due to high costs for transport to the event and poor attendance, the series did not return after the 1999 race.[5] Later in the conference, Helton was asked whether Japanese manufacturer Honda would join NASCAR, but stated that it did not "have a motor that meets specifications for NASCAR racing."[6]

The international exhibition race was later speculated to be moved to EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Germany.[5] As of 2013, NASCAR has not expressed any interest in having its national series run an international exhibition race; senior vice president Steve O'Donnell stated, "We've had 20 groups approach us from China. But most of them are one-offs. We keep pushing back and saying we're going to do this but in a smart way. If you can show us how we build stock-car racing, that's something we want to pursue."[15]

Results[edit]

Qualifying[edit]

Pos No. Driver Team Manufacturer Time Speed
1 12 Jeremy Mayfield Penske Racing South Ford 35.116 158.779
2 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 35.112 158.772
3 31 Mike Skinner Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 35.162 158.592
4 21 Elliott Sadler Wood Brothers Racing Ford 35.259 158.155
5 88 Darrell Waltrip Robert Yates Racing Ford 35.371 157.654
6 99 Jeff Burton Roush Racing Ford 35.399 157.530
7 94 Bill Elliott Bill Elliott Racing Ford 35.499 157.086
8 2 Rusty Wallace Penske Racing South Ford 35.500 157.082
9 1 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet 35.524 156.975
10 60 Lance Norick L & R Motorsports Ford 35.840 155.591
11 7 Michael Waltrip Geoff Bodine Racing Ford 35.883 155.405
12 40 Sterling Marlin Team SABCO Chevrolet 35.983 154.973
13 4 Bobby Hamilton Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet 35.987 154.956
14 55 Kenny Wallace Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet 36.028 154.780
15 3 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 36.053 154.672
16 58 Ricky Craven SBIII Motorsports Ford 36.225 153.938
17 67 Scott Gaylord SMS Motorsports Ford 36.480 152.862
18 16 Brendan Gaughan Bill McAnally Racing Chevrolet 36.664 152.178
19 11 Austin Cameron AC Motorsports Chevrolet 36.794 151.557
20 26 Ron Burns Advance Motorsports Ford 36.879 151.208
21 98 Hideo Fukuyama Davis Racing Enterprises Ford 37.045 150.530
22 8 Jeff Davis Davis Racing Enterprises Ford 37.123 150.214
23 82 Randy Nelson Core Motorsports Ford 37.164 150.048
24 44 Kelly Tanner Tanner Racing Pontiac 37.172 150.016
25 08 Ron Hornaday, Jr. Midgley Motorsports Chevrolet 37.295 149.521
26 10 Butch Gilliland Jenn West Motorsports Ford 37.388 149.149
27 95 Gary Smith Wade Racing Ford 37.629 148.194
28 09 Motohiro Nakaji Midgley Motorsports Pontiac 38.194 146.002
29 28 Kazuteru Wakida Collins Motorsports Chevrolet 38.677 144.179
30 00 Keiichi Tsuchiya Team DD Ford 38.711 144.052
31 86 Rich Woodland, Jr. Woodland Racing Chevrolet N/A .000
Source:[16]

Race results[edit]

Mike Skinner (seen in 2011) won the race.
Pos Grid No. Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Led
1 3 31 Mike Skinner Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 201 94
2 2 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 201 69
3 1 12 Jeremy Mayfield Penske Racing South Ford 201 10
4 6 99 Jeff Burton Roush Racing Ford 201 14
5 8 2 Rusty Wallace Penske Racing South Ford 201 11
6 9 1 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet 201 0
7 7 94 Bill Elliott Bill Elliott Racing Ford 201 0
8 15 3 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 201 1
9 12 40 Sterling Marlin Team SABCO Chevrolet 201 2
10 11 7 Michael Waltrip Geoff Bodine Racing Ford 199 0
11 14 55 Kenny Wallace Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet 199 0
12 10 60 Lance Norick L & R Motorsports Ford 199 0
13 17 67 Scott Gaylord Scott Gaylord Ford 199 0
14 22 8 Jeff Davis Davis Racing Enterprises Ford 198 0
15 25 08 Ron Hornaday, Jr. Midgley Motorsports Chevrolet 197 0
16 26 10 Butch Gilliland Jenn West Motorsports Ford 195 0
17 21 98 Hideo Fukuyama Davis Racing Enterprises Ford 194 0
18 13 4 Bobby Hamilton Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet 188 0
19 18 16 Brendan Gaughan Bill McAnally Racing Chevrolet 185 0
20 4 21 Elliott Sadler Wood Brothers Racing Ford 170 0
21 20 26 Ron Burns Advance Motorsports Ford 144 0
22 16 58 Ricky Craven SBIII Motorsports Ford 108 0
23 19 11 Austin Cameron AC Motorsports Chevrolet 105 0
24 5 88 Darrell Waltrip Robert Yates Racing Ford 84 0
25 27 95 Gary Smith Wade Racing Ford 54 0
26 30 00 Keiichi Tsuchiya Team DD Ford 49 0
27 29 82 Randy Nelson Core Motorsports Ford 44 0
28 29 28 Kazuteru Wakida Collins Motorsports Chevrolet 40 0
29 24 44 Kelly Tanner Tanner Racing Pontiac 27 0
30 28 09 Motohiro Nakaji Midgley Motorsports Pontiac 23 0
31 31 86 Rich Woodland, Jr. Woodland Racing Chevrolet 3 0
Source:[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Weather information for the Coca-Cola 500 at Weather Underground
  2. ^ "RACING WITH THE INTIMIDATOR". Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ Macur, Juliet (November 23, 1998). "Skinner Again Wins Exhibition In Japan". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Twin Ring Motegi to Start Operation on August 1st, 1997". Honda. July 31, 1997. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "JAPAN TRACK/RACE NEWS/RUMORS". Jayski's Silly Season Site. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Borden, Brett (November 23, 1998). "Motegi Post Race Notes". Motorsport. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Double victory". CNN Sports Illustrated. November 22, 1998. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "PLUS: AUTO RACING -- NASCAR THUNDER SPECIAL; Skinner Edges Gordon in Japan". The New York Times. November 23, 1998. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Battling with Gordon". CNN Sports Illustrated. November 21, 1998. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ Borden, Brett (November 21, 1998). "Motegi Qualifying Report". Motorsport. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c "1998 NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  12. ^ "CALIFORNIA NATIVE MIKE SKINNER WINS MOTEGI". RacingWest. November 22, 1998. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Way west". CNN Sports Illustrated. November 17, 1999. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  14. ^ "AUSTIN CAMERON - MOTEGI WAS THE WW RACE OF 1999". RacingWest. December 28, 1999. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  15. ^ Ryan, Nate (November 21, 2013). "NASCAR has plan to build an international presence". USA Today. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 
  16. ^ "1998 NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi qualifying results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 6, 2014.