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1998 Pepsi 400

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1998 Pepsi 400
Race details[1][2]
Race 30 of 33 in the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
1998 Pepsi 400 program, showing the original planned date of July 4, 1998
1998 Pepsi 400 program, showing the original planned date of July 4, 1998
Date October 17, 1998 (1998-10-17)
Location Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida
Course Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.0 km)
Distance 160 laps, 400 mi (643.738 km)
Weather Temperatures descending as low as 72 °F (22 °C); wind speeds approaching 13 miles per hour (21 km/h)[3]
Average speed 144.549 miles per hour (232.629 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Joe Gibbs Racing
Time 46.485
Most laps led
Driver Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports
Laps 49
No. 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports
Television in the United States
Network TNN
Announcers Eli Gold, Dick Berggren and Buddy Baker

The 1998 Pepsi 400 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series stock car race held on October 17, 1998, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Originally scheduled to be held on the Fourth of July, the race was postponed until the fall due to widespread wildfires in central Florida; it was the first superspeedway race to be held at night, and the first time (and, as of 2018, the only time) there were two consecutive points-paying restrictor plate races, with the Winston 500 being run first on October 11.

Contested over 160 laps, it was the thirtieth race of the 1998 season. Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports took his eleventh win of the season, while Bobby Labonte finished second and Mike Skinner finished third. Gordon retained his point lead on the way to his third Winston Cup championship title.



Daytona International Speedway, where the race was held.
Daytona International Speedway, where the race was held.

Daytona International Speedway is one of six superspeedways to hold NASCAR races, the others being Michigan International Speedway, California Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway.[4] The standard track at Daytona International Speedway is a four-turn superspeedway that is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long.[5] The track's turns are banked at 31 degrees, while the front stretch, the location of the finish line, is banked at 18 degrees.[5] John Andretti was the defending race winner.[6] The event was the fifth of five night races held during the 1998 Winston Cup Series season.[7]

The 1998 Pepsi 400 was originally scheduled to be run on July 4, 1998, as the seventeenth race of the 33-event Winston Cup Series schedule.[8] It was the first superspeedway race, and first NASCAR event held at Daytona, to be run at night following the installation of Musco lighting at the Daytona International Speedway;[9] it was also scheduled to be broadcast live on CBS, the first stock car event to be televised live on primetime network television.[10]

During the days leading up to the scheduled start of practice at 3pm, Thursday, July 2, 1998, concerns rose on account of the massive wildfire outbreak that was underway in central Florida; thousands of people were forced to evacuate the area, and Interstate 95, the primary north–south thoroughfare through the region, was closed. At 10am on July 2, NASCAR announced that the race was being postponed; while July 25 was an open date, the decision was made to reschedule the race for October 17, to allow additional time for the wildfires to be controlled.[11] At the time of the postponement, the race was sold out; this was the first time the summer race at Daytona International Speedway had achieved sellout status.[12]

The rescheduling meant that the race would not be televised on CBS, as the network did not want to compete against Fox's broadcast of Game 1 of the Major League Baseball World Series, also scheduled for October 17.[11] On July 21, it was announced that The Nashville Network, a cable affiliate of CBS, would air the rescheduled race live in its entirety.[13]

Prior to the race, Jeff Gordon led the Drivers' Championship with 4632 points, and Mark Martin was in second with 4344 points. Dale Jarrett was third in the Drivers' Championship with 4098 points, Rusty Wallace was fourth with 3883 points, and Jeff Burton was in fifth with 3805 points.[14] In the Manufacturers' Championship, Chevrolet was tied with Ford for the lead with 216 points each; Pontiac followed in third with 138 points.[15]

Practice and qualifying

Practice and first round qualifying was held on Thursday, October 15, 1998; Bobby Labonte led pre-qualifying practice with a lap time of 46.722 seconds.[16] Five Ford teams, those of drivers Chad Little, Jimmy Spencer, Rich Bickle, Dick Trickle and Billy Standridge, ran Thunderbird-bodied race cars, instead of the standard Taurus ran at most 1998 Winston Cup Series races, believing the Thunderbird to have an aerodynamic advantage at the restrictor plate racetracks.[17]ARCA driver Randal Ritter's car failed to pass inspection due to extreme irregularities in its construction, and the team withdrew before practice began.[17]

Bobby Labonte posted the fastest time in first round qualifying, a lap of 46.485 seconds (193.611 miles per hour (311.587 km/h)), winning the Bud Pole Award; Jeff Burton was second fastest. Jeremy Mayfield qualified 25th, the last car to qualify for the race on the first day of time trials.[16] Second round qualifying was held during the afternoon on Friday, October 16; the fastest car in the session, placing 26th on the starting grid, was the No. 07 Chevrolet driven by Dan Pardus, qualifying at a speed of 189.945 miles per hour (305.687 km/h). Kenny Wallace and Rich Bickle also improved their qualifying times and made the starting field for the race; Bickle was the slowest car to qualify on time, at 188.608 miles per hour (303.535 km/h). Bobby Hamilton, Jimmy Spencer, Ricky Craven, Johnny Benson, Jr., Ricky Rudd, Kyle Petty and Darrell Waltrip received provisional starting positions;[18] Rick Mast, Dick Trickle, Rick Wilson, Robert Pressley and Gary Bradberry failed to make the field for the event.[19]

Ernie Irvan, 14th in Winston Cup Series points entering the event, opted to sit out the majority of practice and qualifying, having suffered injuries in a crash the previous week at Talladega Superspeedway; Ricky Craven practiced and qualified the No. 36 Pontiac for Irvan.[20] Irvan did run a few laps during practice on Friday night, October 16; the "Happy Hour" practice session began at 7:30pm and was scheduled to run for two and a half hours, but was delayed during its duration for an hour and 45 minutes, as the track was dried following afternoon thunderstorms.[21] Bobby Hamilton posted the fastest speed in the session, 191.345 miles per hour (307.940 km/h). Johnny Benson's car suffered a hood failure during the session, the hood flying off of the car.[17]


The 1998 Pepsi 400 was the first race held at Daytona International Speedway under the lights.
The 1998 Pepsi 400 was the first race held at Daytona International Speedway under the lights.

The race was held starting at 8pm on Saturday, October 17, 1998. Ernie Irvan dropped to the rear of the field prior to the start of the race, due to a driver change; Ricky Craven had qualified the car. Although Bobby Labonte started on pole, Dale Jarrett, who had started third, led the first lap of the race; Dale Earnhardt took the lead on lap two and held it through the first caution period of the race, for rain, for three laps starting at lap 13. A large crash occurred on lap 32; initiated by Kevin Lepage losing control of his car in turn two, the wreck collected eleven cars, including Hut Stricklin, Geoff Bodine and three-time Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip; Earnhardt lost the lead during pit stops under caution to Rusty Wallace, with Dave Marcis pitting a lap later than the leaders to pick up five bonus points for leading a lap. Lepage suffered a fractured shoulder in a fall exiting his car.[19][22]

The race resumed on lap 39; after Earnhardt took the lead for one lap at lap 44 Jarrett assumed the lead and held it for the next 37 laps, until pit stops shuffled the field and saw Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and Bobby Labonte swapping the lead among themselves. Jimmy Spencer and Jeremy Mayfield each also led a single lap during the long green-flag period that ended on lap 107 when Dan Pardus hit the wall in turn two. Gordon had been leading at the time of the caution; he lost the lead to rookie Kenny Irwin, Jr. during pit stops, and Irwin retained the lead after the resumption of racing on lap 110, leading 15 laps in total until being passed by Gordon on lap 123 on account of having a flat tire, just before the caution came out once again for a rain shower.[19][22]

The brief four-lap caution saw Gordon retaining the lead; he continued to pace the field as Irwin, on lap 141, hit the Thunderbird of Chad Little, setting off a nine-car accident that brought out a caution. Gordon continued to lead on the restart, and on lap 155, five laps from the finish of the event, rain began to fall once again; the caution flag was thrown, then the red flag, stopping the race to allow the track to be dried and the event to finish under green.[19][22]

After a 37-minute red flag period, the race resumed; Gordon was able to hold off his challengers over the final three laps to take his eleventh win of the season.[19][22] In the midst of the final sprint, Chad Little ended up getting turned from behind by Jimmy Spencer while in a three wide battle exiting turn 4 and crashed hard into the inside wall, failing to make it to the stripe and finishing 20th. Gordon set an average speed of 144.549 miles per hour (232.629 km/h) while leading 49 of the race's 160 laps. Gordon received $184,325 in purse money.[22] Bobby Labonte finished second; Mike Skinner was third, while Jeremy Mayfield and Rusty Wallace finished in the top five.[19] The fastest lap of the race was set by Dale Earnhardt, at 191.383 miles per hour (308.001 km/h).[23]

Gordon, who had entered the race with the points lead, extended it to 358 points over Mark Martin;[22] nobody would challenge Gordon over the remainder of the season, and he would go on to win his third Winston Cup Series championship; he was the youngest driver to accomplish the feat.[24] The race took two hours, forty-six minutes, and two seconds to complete, and the margin of victory was 0.176 seconds.[2]

Statistical notes

The 1998 Pepsi 400 was the only Winston Cup Series start by Dan Pardus,[18] and the last by Billy Standridge.[25] It was also the last race for which Rick Wilson attempted to qualify.[26]

The Pepsi 400 would return to its traditional July date in 1999, and has been held at night every year since the 1998 event, except in 2014 and 2019 when it was postponed to Sunday due to rain. Until 2020, when the date was changed to August, 29th. [27]



No. Driver Team Manufacturer Time Speed Grid
18 Bobby Labonte Joe Gibbs Racing Pontiac 46.485 193.611 1
99 Jeff Burton Roush Racing Ford 46.710 192.678 2
88 Dale Jarrett Robert Yates Racing Ford 46.873 192.008 3
5 Terry Labonte Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 46.884 191.963 4
3 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 46.928 191.783 5
6 Mark Martin Roush Racing Ford 46.957 191.665 6
2 Rusty Wallace Penske Racing South Ford 46.990 191.530 7
24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 47.003 191.477 8
31 Mike Skinner Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 47.008 191.457 9
55 Hut Stricklin Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet 47.012 191.440 10
28 Kenny Irwin, Jr. # Robert Yates Racing Ford 47.072 191.196 11
22 Ward Burton Bill Davis Racing Pontiac 47.096 191.099 12
30 Derrike Cope Bahari Racing Pontiac 47.097 191.095 13
43 John Andretti Petty Enterprises Pontiac 47.143 190.909 14
1 Steve Park # Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet 47.146 190.896 15
33 Ken Schrader Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet 47.148 190.888 16
40 Sterling Marlin Team Sabco Chevrolet 47.170 190.799 17
47 Billy Standridge Standridge Motorsports T-Bird 47.228 190.565 18
11 Brett Bodine Brett Bodine Racing Ford 47.268 190.404 19
97 Chad Little Roush Racing T-Bird 47.300 190.275 20
7 Geoff Bodine Geoff Bodine Racing Ford 47.331 190.150 21
16 Kevin Lepage # Roush Racing Ford 47.344 190.098 22
91 Andy Hillenburg LJ Racing Chevrolet 47.374 189.978 23
96 Steve Grissom American Equipment Racing Chevrolet 47.374 189.978 24
12 Jeremy Mayfield Penske-Kranefuss Racing Ford 47.447 189.685 25
07 Dan Pardus Midwest Transit Racing Chevrolet 47.382 189.946 26‡
42 Joe Nemechek Team Sabco Chevrolet 47.455 189.653 27
81 Kenny Wallace FILMAR Racing Ford 47.472 189.585 28
21 Michael Waltrip Wood Brothers Racing Ford 47.488 189.522 29
71 Dave Marcis Marcis Auto Racing Chevrolet 47.532 189.346 30
94 Bill Elliott Bill Elliott Racing Ford 47.538 189.322 31
46 Jeff Green Team Sabco Chevrolet 47.565 189.215 32
9 Jerry Nadeau # Melling Racing Ford 47.568 189.203 33
13 Ted Musgrave Elliott-Marino Racing Ford 47.649 188.881 34
50 Wally Dallenbach, Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 47.692 188.711 35
98 Rich Bickle Cale Yarborough Racing T-Bird 47.718 188.608 36
4 Bobby Hamilton Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet
23 Jimmy Spencer Travis Carter Enterprises T-Bird
36 Ricky Craven MB2 Motorsports Pontiac
26 Johnny Benson, Jr. Roush Racing Ford
10 Ricky Rudd Rudd Performance Motorsports Ford
44 Kyle Petty PE2 Pontiac
35 Darrell Waltrip Tyler Jet Motorsports Pontiac
Past Champion
Failed to Qualify
90 Dick Trickle Donlavey Racing T-Bird 48.092 187.141
75 Rick Mast RahMoc Enterprises Ford 48.093 187.137
41 Rick Wilson Larry Hedrick Motorsports Chevrolet 48.441 185.793
77 Robert Pressley Jasper Motorsports Ford 48.806 184.404
78 Gary Bradberry Triad Motorsports Ford 48.864 184.185
68 Randal Ritter Ritter Racing Chevrolet
# Rookie of the Year candidate / † Driver change following qualifying / ‡ Fastest second round qualifier

Race results

Pos Grid No. Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Points
1 8 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 160 1852
2 1 18 Bobby Labonte Joe Gibbs Racing Pontiac 160 1751
3 9 31 Mike Skinner Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 160 165
4 25 12 Jeremy Mayfield Penske-Kranefuss Racing Ford 160 1651
5 7 2 Rusty Wallace Penske Racing South Ford 160 1601
6 4 5 Terry Labonte Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 160 150
7 12 22 Ward Burton Bill Davis Racing Pontiac 160 146
8 39† 36 Ernie Irvan MB2 Motorsports Pontiac 160 142
9 16 33 Ken Schrader Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet 160 138
10 5 3 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 160 1391
11 37 4 Bobby Hamilton Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet 160 130
12 38 23 Jimmy Spencer Travis Carter Enterprises T-Bird 160 1321
13 2 99 Jeff Burton Roush Racing Ford 160 124
14 14 43 John Andretti Petty Enterprises Pontiac 160 121
15 31 94 Bill Elliott Bill Elliott Racing Ford 160 118
16 6 6 Mark Martin Roush Racing Ford 160 115
17 27 42 Joe Nemechek Team Sabco Chevrolet 160 112
18 17 40 Sterling Marlin Team Sabco Chevrolet 160 109
19 33 9 Jerry Nadeau # Melling Racing Ford 160 106
20 20 97 Chad Little Roush Racing T-Bird 159 103
21 30 71 Dave Marcis Marcis Auto Racing Chevrolet 159 1051
22 42 44 Kyle Petty PE2 Pontiac 159 97
23 3 88 Dale Jarrett Robert Yates Racing Ford 159 991
24 23 91 Andy Hillenburg LJ Racing Chevrolet 159 91
25 19 11 Brett Bodine Brett Bodine Racing Ford 159 88
26 40 26 Johnny Benson, Jr. Roush Racing Ford 159 85
27 41 10 Ricky Rudd Rudd Performance Motorsports Ford 159 82
28 43 35 Darrell Waltrip Tyler Jet Motorsports Pontiac 158 79
29 24 96 Steve Grissom American Equipment Racing Chevrolet 157 76
30 35 50 Wally Dallenbach, Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 156 73
31 29 21 Michael Waltrip Wood Brothers Racing Ford 144 70
32 11 28 Kenny Irwin, Jr. # Robert Yates Racing Ford 140 721
33 15 1 Steve Park # Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet 139 64
34 34 13 Ted Musgrave Elliott-Marino Racing Ford 116 61
35 28 81 Kenny Wallace FILMAR Racing Ford 113 58
36 26 07 Dan Pardus Midwest Transit Racing Chevrolet 99 55
37 32 46 Jeff Green Team Sabco Chevrolet 98 52
38 13 30 Derrike Cope Bahari Racing Pontiac 67 49
39 36 98 Rich Bickle Cale Yarborough Racing T-Bird 58 46
40 22 16 Kevin Lepage # Roush Racing Ford 31 43
41 21 7 Geoff Bodine Geoff Bodine Racing Ford 31 40
42 10 55 Hut Stricklin Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet 31 37
43 18 47 Billy Standridge Standridge Motorsports T-Bird 19 34
# Rookie of the Year candidate / † Driver change following qualifying
1 Includes five bonus points for leading a lap
2 Includes ten bonus points for leading the most laps


  1. ^ "1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Schedule". Turner Sports. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  2. ^ a b c "1998 Official Race Results : Pepsi 400". Turner Sports. Archived from the original on 2004-04-10. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  3. ^ "Weather of the 1998 Pepsi 400". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Archived from the original on 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  4. ^ "NASCAR Race Tracks". Turner Sports. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  5. ^ a b "NASCAR Tracks — The Daytona International Speedway". Speedway Guide. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  6. ^ "1997 Pepsi 400". Racing-Reference. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  7. ^ "Pepsi 400 at Daytona is finally here". Williamson Daily News. Williamson, WV. October 15, 1998. p. 8.
  8. ^ Willis, Ken (October 15, 1998). "Season has raised some hot points of its own". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Daytona Beach, FL. p. 1B.
  9. ^ Willis, Ken (July 3, 1998). "Postponement of race better late than never". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Daytona Beach, FL. p. 1B.
  10. ^ Kent, Milton (November 20, 1997). "CBS's plans for 1998 Pepsi 400 mark a first for auto coverage". The Baltimore Sun. Baltimore, MD. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  11. ^ a b "Wildfires postpone Pepsi 400". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Lubbock, TX. July 3, 1998. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  12. ^ Macur, Juliet (October 11, 1998). "Wait For Pepsi 400 Under Lights Is Over". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, FL. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  13. ^ "CBS affiliate TNN will air Pepsi 400". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Daytona Beach, FL. July 22, 1998. p. 1B.
  14. ^ "Driver's Championship Classification". Turner Sports. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  15. ^ "NASCAR Manufacturers' Championship". Jayski's Silly Season Site. ESPN Internet Ventures. Archived from the original on August 3, 2015. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  16. ^ a b Brioso, Cesar (October 16, 1999). "Bobby Labonte on Pepsi Pole". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, FL. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  17. ^ a b c d Adamczyk, Jay (October 18, 1998). "Jayski's Silly Season Site: Past News October 12-18, 1998". Jayski's Silly Season Site. ESPN. Archived from the original on September 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  18. ^ a b "Pardus, at Last, Makes Winston Cup Debut". The New York Times. New York. October 17, 1998. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  19. ^ a b c d e f "1998 Pepsi 400". Racing-Reference. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  20. ^ "Hurting Irvan sits out 400 qualifying". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Fort Worth, TX. October 16, 1998. pp. 7 Sports.
  21. ^ Hornack, Ken (October 17, 1998). "Rough drafts can spark wrecks". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Daytona Beach, FL. Archived from the original on October 1, 1999. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  22. ^ a b c d e f "Gordon wins Pepsi 400". Associated Press. October 17, 1998. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  23. ^ The Official NASCAR Preview and Press Guide '98. Charlotte, NC: UMI Publications. 1999. p. 213. ASIN B0041UX75U.
  24. ^ "Can Jeff Gordon Top His Phenomenal 1998 Season". The Newberry Observer. Newberry, SC. January 29, 1999. p. 7. Retrieved 2012-07-03.
  25. ^ "Billy Standridge - NASCAR Sprint Cup Results". Racing-Reference. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  26. ^ Kelly, Godwin (October 6, 1998). "Wilson back in driver's seat". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Daytona Beach, FL. p. 2B.
  27. ^ Diaz, George (July 4, 2003). "Under The Bright Lights". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale, FL. Retrieved 2012-07-03.
  28. ^ "Daytona Pepsi Starting Grid". October 17, 1998. Retrieved 2012-06-06.

Previous race:
1998 Winston 500
Winston Cup Series
1998 season
Next race:
1998 Dura Lube/Kmart 500

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