1998 Year in Review

Allen Coates dominated the Late Models in 1998
(Rene Dugas photo)

Allen Coates had one of the most dominating seasons in the track’s history when he won an amazing 13 Late Model feature events, including the first three of the season and four straight during the month of August.  His season total was second only to Phil Rondeau‘s 14 in 1989.  Coates also swept the 3 extra distance events, winning the season-opening 50 lapper during the Modified Nationals plus the 100 lappers for the mid-season Pepsi 300 and the season-ending Finale.  Despite his numerous trips to victory lane, he only won the points championship by 38 points over Rondeau – a 5-time winner himself.  Joey Coates, Allen’s brother, added a Late Model win on May 30th, giving the family 14 trophies for the season.

J-J-Pearl (dugas)
Jeff Pearl joined his father on the Speedbowl
Champions list when he won the 1998 SK
Modified Championship (Rene Dugas photo)

Jeff Pearl beat the Gada brothers (Dennis & Mike) in the final point standings to capture the SK Modified track championship, winning 2 features along the way.  He was the second consecutive SK track champion to join their father on the Speedbowl Champions list.  Jeff’s dad Jerry Pearl won the 1993 SK title.  Bert Marvin was awarded the victory for the season opening 200-lapper during the Budweiser Modified Nationals when apparent winner Ted Christopher was disqualified for an illegal transmission.  TC did however win the 100-lap portion of the Pepsi 300 in July while teenager Eric Berndt won the season ending 100 lap event during the Finale.

Corey Hutchings won the Strictly Stock
Championship over Ed Gertsch Jr
(Rene Dugas photo)

Corey Hutchings won his first track championship in the Strictly Stock division by a mere 10 pts over Ed Gertsch Jr.  The 2 dominated victory lane with a collective 9 feature wins (4 and 5 respectfully) in a division that produced 14 different winners.  Hutchings won the 30 lap event on opening weekend.  Joe Mancini Jr and John Beetham won the two 50-lap events.

Jeff Miller clinched the 1998 Mini Stock title by
winning the Finale 50 (Rene Dugas photo)

The Mini Stock championship came down to 5 drivers within 16 pts of each other going into the Finale:  Jeff Miller and Billy Guyette (who were tied for the point lead), Bruce Thomas, Joe Perry & Jim Allen.  Jeff Miller clinched the championship with his 50 lap feature win in the Finale following his Rookie of the Year campaign in 1997.  It was Miller’s second MS championship as car owner (1996 – Dan Darnstaedt). Billy Guyette won the season opening 30 lapper and the mid-season 50 lap event.

Modified star Ted Christopher won the 1998
NEMA Midget event during Budweiser Modified
Nationals weekend (Rene Dugas photo)

Although Ted Christopher was disqualified from the Modified Nationals event, he did win in the NEMA Midgets that weekend. Drew Fornoro and Bobby Seymour won the other two NEMA events during the season.

The Legend Car & All Star Race Truck divisions had their weekly series moved from Thursday to Sunday.  Renamed Sunday Spectacular, the events would continue to include Enduro cars, ladies races and demolition derbies. The Legend Cars were part of a regional tour with a 27 race schedule, 14 of which were originally scheduled for the Speedbowl. Danny McNamara was the man to beat at Waterford with 6 wins, while Kevin Debbis remained the top dog in the Trucks with a division-best 5 wins.