MRN Flashback: 1999 Exide 400
By: MRN Staff on September 4, 2013 | 4:04 P.M. EST
In September 1999, Cup Series rookie Tony Stewart led 333 of 400 laps at Richmond International Raceway to claim his first career win. (Photo: ISC Archives)
Through the first seven months of the 1999 NASCAR schedule, Bobby Labonte was the standard bearer for Joe Gibbs Racing as he challenged Dale Jarrett for a Cup Series championship.
But on the night of September 11, it was rookie Tony Stewart’s turn to shine for JGR. In just his 25th start, "Smoke" led 333 of the 400 laps run at Richmond International Raceway to claim his first career victory, in the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400.
After starting second alongside pole sitter Mike Skinner, Stewart quickly asserted himself in the No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac … leading four times during the first half of the race including one stretch of 138 laps around the .75-mile Fairgrounds oval.
Stewart’s masterful drive continued in the second half and he went on to beat runner-up - and teammate - Labonte by 1.115 seconds. Jarrett, Sterling Marlin and Kenny Irwin completed the top five.
Skinner led only three laps after starting from the pole and finished 11th. Elliott Sadler was the highest-placed rookie, in 17th. The race included six cautions for 45 laps.
Stewart won two more races that season, at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, and was named 1999 Rookie of the Year. He finished fourth in the final standings … behind champion Jarrett, runner-up Labonte and Mark Martin. Three years later, Stewart would win the first of his three Sprint Cup Series championships.
NASCAR returns to RIR this weekend for Saturday’s 56th running of the track’s annual fall race … known today as the Federated Auto Parts 400.
Visit MotorRacingNetwork.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1999 Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 from Richmond International 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.