MRN Flashback: 1998 Pennsylvania 500

J.Gordon

Jeff Gordon had plenty of reasons to smile in 1998 ... 13 Cup Series wins and a NASCAR championship. (Photo: ISC Archives)

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For Jeff Gordon, the first half of the 1998 NASCAR season was pretty good … with four wins in 17 starts.

But as July came to a close, Gordon’s "good" season was about to become a "great" season – starting with the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.  His victory there sparked a four-race winning streak that would lead to his second straight Cup Series championship and the third in four years.

On July 26, 1998, Gordon started second and led 164 of the race’s 200 laps in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, including the final 55 trips around "The Tricky Triangle."  His margin of victory over runner-up Mark Martin was 1.153 seconds with Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarrett completing the top five.

Pole sitter Ward Burton led only 15 laps and finished 34th after being sidelined by an accident less than 30 laps from the checkered flag.  Kenny Irwin was the highest-finishing rookie, in 22nd.

The race included just 10 lead changes.  That total still stands today as the track record for the fewest in a Cup Series race at Pocono.  There were five cautions for 25 laps.

Gordon won nine of the last 16 races that season, closing the schedule with victories in two of his last three starts and beating championship runner-up Martin by a whopping 364 points.

Visit MotorRacingNetwork.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1998 Pennsylvania 500 from Pocono Raceway, anchored by Barney Hall and Allen Bestwick.  Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will feature a classic race broadcast each week on “Throwback Thursday” throughout the 2013 season at MotorRacingNetwork.com.

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