As the 1999 NASCAR racing season wound to a close, the competition's favorites continued to grab both poles and headlines, while up-and-coming cars and drivers fought to inch their way up to meet the standards and statistics held by the leaders of the pack. The following is a season wrap-up of each of the three circuits comprising the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing:
Winston Cup Series
After finishing second and third in the Winston Cup championship during the past two seasons, Dale Jarrett finally won the big one in 1999. Jarrett pocketed the coveted $2 million-and-change bounty with his coronation as Driver of the Year at the Winston Cup Series Award Banquet Dec. 3 in New York City. Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, and The Home Depot's Tony Stewart joined the new champion in the Big Apple to receive their second, third, and fourth place winnings, respectively.
Labonte, who carries the banner for the No.18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac/Ditch Witch team, closed the NASCAR season in top form by capturing the NAPA 500 at the circuit's last meeting in Atlanta. A total of five wins throughout the season placed Labonte merely 201 points behind Jarrett and the season's top honors.
Bobby's elder brother, two-time Winston Cup Champion Terry Labonte, did not fare as well as his sibling in Atlanta. Terry's No. 5 Monte Carlo tangled with Michael Waltrip's Ford Taurus, which dropped back with a flat left rear tire. No. 75 Rick Mast and Square D's No. 55 Kenny Wallace were also involved in the lap 198 accident, which marked the worst crash of the day.
Jeff Gordon, who won back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998, also ran into trouble in Atlanta. Engine failure led the three-time series champion to a dissapointing 38th place finish in the NAPA 500 and a final standing of 6th-place in the 1999 points race. However, "The Kid" topped out in money standings for the season, raking in $5,281,361. Fellow racing icon Jeff Burton was runner-up in dollars earned with total winnings of $5,211,301.
All Winston Cup participants will begin the 2000 season at ground zero when the sport convenes at Daytona International Speedway's Bud Shootout Feb. 13. See below for a complete circuit schedule.
2000 NASCAR Winston Cup Schedule
February 13 Daytona International Speedway (Bud Shootout)*
February 20 Daytona International Speedway
February 27 North Carolina Speedway
March 5 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 12 Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 19 Darlington Raceway
March 26 Bristol Motor Speedway
April 2 Texas Motor Speedway
April 9 Martinsville Speedway
April 16 Talladega Superspeedway
April 30 California Speedway
May 6 Richmond International Raceway
May 20 Lowe's Motor Speedway (The Winston)*
May 28 Lowe's Motor Speedway
June 4 Dover Downs International Speedway
June 11 Michigan Speedway
June 18 Pocono Raceway
June 25 Sears Point Raceway
July 1 Daytona International Speedway
July 9 New Hampshire International Speedway
July 23 Pocono Raceway
August 5 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
August 13 Watkins Glen International
August 20 Michigan Speedway
August 26 Bristol Motor Speedway
September 3 Darlington Raceway
September 9 Richmond International Raceway
September 17 New Hampshire International Speedway
September 24 Dover Downs International Speedway
October 1 Martinsville Speedway
October 8 Lowe's Motor Speedway
October 15 Talladega Superspeedway
October 22 North Carolina Speedway
November 5 Phoenix International Raceway
November 12 Homestead-Miami Speedway
November 19 Atlanta Motor Speedway
Busch Grand National Series
The 18th season of the second-largest circuit in NASCAR racing, the Busch Series Grand National Division, ended with a surprise winner at the Hotwheels.com 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. No. 87 Joe Nemechek, the1992 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division champion, passed Winston Cup regular Ward Burton, who was black-flagged with only three laps to go. The flag incident resulted with No. 9 Burton finishing in10th place at the event.
Finishing just 0.879 seconds behind Nemechek, Dale Earnhardt Jr. garnered second-place honors at Homestead, and for the second year running, finished as overall champion in the Busch circuit. Earnhardt will begin the 2000 season as a rookie on the Winston Cup circuit.
Also with a repeat performance in overall standings was No. 17, DeWalt Tools' Chevrolet driver Matt Kenseth, who claimed second-place honors in the battle for the Busch Series title for the second year in a row. Kenseth will fight for the title once again in 2000, starting Feb. 19 at the circuit's first meeting in Daytona. (For a complete Busch Series schedule, see below.)
2000 Busch Grand National Series Schedule
February 19 Daytona International Speedway
February 26 North Carolina Speedway
March 4 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 11 Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 18 Darlington Raceway
March 25 Bristol Motor Speedway
April 1 Texas Motor Speedway
April 8 Nashville Speedway
April 15 Talladega Superspeedway
April 29 California Speedway
May 5 Richmond International Raceway
May 13 New Hampshire International Speedway
May 27 Lowe's Motor Speedway
June 3 Dover Downs International Speedway
June 10 South Boston Speedway
June 17 Myrtle Beach Speedway
June 25 Watkins Glen International
July 2 Milwaukee Mile
July 16 Nazareth Speedway
July 22 Pikes Peak International Raceway
July 29 Gateway International Raceway
August 4 Indianapolis Raceway Park
August 19 Michigan Speedway
August 25 Bristol Motor Speedway
September 2 Darlington Raceway
September 8 Richmond International Raceway
September 23 Dover Downs International Speedway
October 7 Lowe's Motor Speedway
October 21 North Carolina Speedway
October 29 Memphis Motorsports Park
November 4 Phoenix International Raceway
November 11 Homestead-Miami Speedway
Craftsman Truck Series
Jack Sprague snagged the Craftsman Truck Series title with his win at the California Motor Speedway NAPA Auto Care 200 season finale. Driving the No. 24 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, Sprague inched out Joe Ruttman's Dodge by 0.266 seconds to secure his second series title in three years.
Coming in a strong second in the points race, Greg Biffle and his No. 50 Grainger Ford team received the top slot in winnings, finishing the year with $577,405. Sprague followed with earnings reaching $478,200, and defending back-to-back champion Ron Hornaday pocketed $474,560.
Hornaday, who has won a series-record 25 races over the past five seasons, finished seventh in the standings, marking his worst outcome in his Truck Series tenure. Trailing right behind the truck-racing phenomenon was No. 98 Kevin Harvick, driving the Porter-Cable Power Tools Ford, who wrapped up the season in ninth place.
Competition resumes Feb. 20 with the Florida Dodge Dealers 400 at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. (For a complete circuit listing, see below.)
2000 Craftsman Truck Series Schedule
February 18 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
February 26 Homestead-Miami Speedway, Miami, Fla.
March 18 Phoenix International Raceway, Phoenix, Ariz.
March 25 Mesa Marin Raceway, Bakersfield, Calif.
April 8 Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, Va.
April 22 Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore.
May 7 Gateway International Raceway, St. Louis, Mo.
May 13 Memphis Motorsports Park, Memphis, Tenn.
May 21 Pikes Peak Int'l Raceway, Fountain, Colo.
June 3 Evergreen Speedway, Seattle, Wash.
June 9 Texas Motor Speedway Ft. Worth, Texas
June 17 Kentucky Speedway, Lexington, Ky.
June 24 Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, N.Y.
July 1 The Milwaukee Mile, Milwaukee, Wis.
July 8 New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
July 15 Nazareth Speedway, Nazereth, Pa.
July 22 Michigan Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.
August 3 Indianapolis Raceway Park, Indianapolis, Ind.
August 12 Nashville Speedway USA, Nashville, Tenn.
August 27 Chicago Motor Speedway, Chicago, Ill.
September 7 Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, Va.
September 22 Dover Downs International Speedway, Dover, Del.
October 13 Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas
October 28 California Speedway, Los Angeles, Calif.