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GORDON FLASHES VICTORY; NAPA NABS FIVE MORE YEARS AT AMS
Published November 17, 1997
Jeff Gordon won his second NASCAR Winston Cup championship Sunday, finishing 17th at Sunday's season- ending NAPA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS). With the $1.5M championship bonus from series sponsor R.J. Reynolds, Gordon became the first race-car driver to win $5M in a season (USA TODAY, 11/17). In K.C., Shannon Rose profiled Gordon, and wrote that "whether fans like it or not, Gordon has another talent besides driving. He can convert the average person into a race fan." Rose: "Like it or not, Gordon is the future of NASCAR. And both are only going to get bigger and bigger" (K.C. STAR, 11/16). GET OUT ON THE HIGHWAY: In Atlanta, Al Levine wrote that "about" 160,000 were expected this past weekend at the newly renovated AMS. The complex accommodated "about" 20,000 corporate sponsor guests, including title sponsor NAPA who built a 60,000-square foot village for its 3,500 guests (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/15). Also in Atlanta, Steve Hummer wrote on NASCAR's fan following: "Pick an adjective. Best. Most blindly loyal. Most put out. Just flat craziest. The NASCAR Winston Cup fan can answer to them all." More Hummer: "As the sport continues to gain altitude, it is only going to become more difficult to serve in racing's ranks. It's choking on its own popularity, leaving the corporate interests and the grassroots fans to battle for its soul" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/16). NAPA'S AUTO RACE: NAPA has signed on to sponsor the November Winston Cup race at AMS for five more years (Ben Blake, INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 11/16). BRING ALONG DUPER? Dan Marino has signed an agreement with NASCAR's Bill Elliott to jointly own the second car on the Elliott team for the '98 NASCAR Winston Cup season. The Elliott-Marino Motorsports entry will make its debut at the Daytona Int'l Speedway on February 15. Jerry Nadeau will be the driver, while TX-based FirstPlus Financial, Inc., a consumer finance company, will be the primary sponsor of the #13 Ford Taurus (FirstPlus Financial).