35 Facts: 1998 Daytona 500

January 25, 2019

Seth and Sutton Sharp

 

  1. The 1998 Winston Cup season kicked off NASCAR’s 50th anniversary season.
  2. The Labonte brothers swept the front row in qualifying for the Daytona 500, as Bobby put his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac on the pole and Terry qualified second.
  3. It was the first time brothers sat on the front row for the Daytona 500.
  4. Sterling Marlin, driving his first race in the No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet for Felix Sabates, won the first Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying race. He spent the previous four years driving the No. 4 for Morgan-McClure Motorsports, where he won two Daytona 500’s.
  5. Ken Schrader broke his sternum during a last-lap crash during the first qualifying race. He stayed in his car for the entire Daytona 500 and finished fourth.
  6. Dale Earnhardt started second and led all 50 laps en-route to his ninth consecutive win in a Daytona 500 qualifying race.
  7. Outside pole-sitter Terry Labonte parked his car after five laps and finished 28th.
  8. Michael Waltrip (sixth), Mike Skinner (eighth) and Jeremy Mayfield (13th) were the only drivers to qualify inside the top-17 that had at least one Winston Cup victory on their resume.
  9. After Wally Dallenbach Jr. failed to qualify, First Union moved it’s sponsorship over to the No. 91 of Kevin Lepage, who started 20th.
  10. Johnny Benson Jr failed to qualify in his first attempt in the No. 26 Cheerios Ford for Jack Roush.
  11. The No. 35 Tabasco PontiacĀ attempted to make its debut but failed to qualify. Todd Bodine was behind the wheel, finishing 22nd in the first qualifying race.
  12. 14 drivers in total failed to qualify for the race.
  13. Joe Nemechek, Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip, Jimmy Spencer, Mike Wallace, John Andretti, Jeff Burton, Dick Trickle and Robert Pressley all drove double-duty, competing in both the Daytona 500 and the Busch Grand National Series NAPA Auto Parts 300 on Saturday.
  14. The field was full of brothers as the Labonte’s, Waltrip’s and Burton’s all made the field. The Bodine and Wallace families each had the potential to put three brothers in the field, but Todd Bodine and Kenny Wallace failed to qualify. Another set of brothers, the Green’s, both failed to qualify.
  15. The Labonte brothers, Schrader, Ernie Irvan and John Andretti were all eligible to win an additional $1 million if they won the race, through the Winston No Bull 5 program.
  16. Miami Dolphins Quarterback Dan Marino waved the green flag at the start of the Daytona 500.
  17. Mike Joy, Ned Jarrett and Buddy Baker called the race from the CBS broadcast booth.
  18. The race marked the first points race for the Ford Taurus.
  19. At the time, it was the largest crowd in Daytona International Speedway history.
  20. The race saw eighth drivers swap the lead 13 times.
  21. Dale Earnhardt led the final 61 laps to win the Daytona 500 for the first time. It was his 20th attempt at winning the race.
  22. Jimmy Spencer, Lake Speed and Andretti were involved in a crash on lap-199, which set-up Earnhardt to take the white and yellow flags at the same time.
  23. CBS’s Mike Joy iconically called Earnhardt to the win: “20 years of trying. 20 years of frustration. Dale Earnhardt will come to the caution flag to win the Daytona 500!”. He also perfectly described the scene on pit road after the event, “Every man on every crew has come out to the edge of pit lane to congratulate the man who has dominated everything there is to win in this sport, except for this race, until today.”
  24. Earnhardt’s 107 laps led was the most laps led by a Daytona 500 winner since Davey Allison led 127 in 1992.
  25. It was Earnhardt’s 11th top-10 finish over his previous 12 Daytona 500 starts. Over that span, he also had eighth top fives, which included five top-three finishes.
  26. Earnhardt’s victory also broke a 59 race winless drought, dating back to the 1996 Purolator 500 at Atlanta.
  27. 18 cars finished on the lead-lap, including seven Chevrolets, seven Fords and four Pontiacs.
  28. Bobby Labonte, Mayfield, Schrader and Rusty Wallace rounded out the top-five.
  29. Kenny Irwin Jr, driving his first race in the No. 28 for Robert Yates, finished 19th after qualifying 38th.
  30. Four drivers, Jeff Burton, Steve Park, Ricky Rudd and Kevin Lepage, ended the race in the garage area.
  31. The caution flag only waved three times in the race. Ward Burton cut a tire on lap 126, Andretti and Robert Pressley were involved in an accident on lap 174 and the previously mentioned yellow flag that ended the race.
  32. Earnhardt joined Irvan (sixth), Bill Elliott (10th) and Jeff Gordon (16th) as the only drivers to finish in the top-20 to have a Daytona 500 victory on their resume.
  33. Earnhardt took home $1,059,805 for winning, while Park pocketed a race-low $70,780 for finishing 31st.
  34. Jack Roush saw his four drivers who qualified for the race finish 7th (Chad Little), 20th (Ted Musgrave), 38th (Mark Martin) and 40th (J.Burton).
  35. Earnhardt left Daytona with a 10 point lead in the points standings over Bobby Labonte.
Updated: January 25, 2019 — 2:05 pm

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