MRN Flashback: 1998 NAPA Autocare 500
By: MRN Staff on October 23, 2013 | 3:29 P.M. EST
In September 1998, owner-driver Ricky Rudd took his turn in Victory Lane – steering the Tide-sponsored Ford to a win at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo: ISC Archives)
To open the second half of the 1998 NASCAR season, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin combined to win eight of the first nine races as they battled for the Cup Series championship.
But on Sept. 27, Ricky Rudd changed the scenery in Victory Lane – steering his No. 10 Tide-sponsored Ford to a win in the NAPA Autocare 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Rudd led the final 96 laps around the Virginia half-mile, beating Gordon to the checkered flag by a half-second with Martin right behind in third place. Rich Bickle and Jeff Burton completed the top five.
Rudd started second in the 43-car field and led four times for 198 laps. Sterling Marlin led a race-high 231 laps en route to an 18th-place finish. Pole sitter Ernie Irvan had his No. 36 Pontiac in front for only the first 14 circuits and wound up eighth. Kevin Lepage was the highest-placed rookie, in 17th.
The race included 11 lead changes among just five drivers: Rudd, Marlin, Irvan, John Andretti and Jeff Burton. There were 11 cautions for 82 laps.
Following Rudd’s victory at Martinsville, Gordon and Martin returned to prominence by winning four of the season’s last six races en route to a one-two finish in the final standings … with Gordon claiming the third of his four championships.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway this weekend for the 65th running of the NAPA Autocare 500 – known today as the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered by Kroger.
Visit MRN.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1998 NAPA Autocare 500 at Martinsville Speedway, anchored by Barney Hall and Allen Bestwick. Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – features a classic race broadcast each week on "Throwback Thursday" throughout the 2013 season at MRN.com.