GORDON FLASHES VICTORY; NAPA NABS FIVE MORE YEARS AT AMS
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).