The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Christian Captures First '97 NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series Win

1 August 1997

TOPEKA, KS - July 26, 1997 - The 1997 NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series
season has been a case of feast or famine for Sugar Hill, GA's Steven
Christian.  When the checkered flag waved on the $93,100 Coca-Cola
Shootout at Heartland Park Topeka, Christian was ready to feast on the
spoils of victory as he bested a field of 31 other drivers for his
first series win of '97.

Earning a career high $12,175, in front of a live TNN television
audience, Christian piloted his race car to a 46.55 second victory
over series points leader Jeff Fultz.  In a post race press conference
Christian gave praise to his crew chief Sammy Shumate who made some
critical strategic calls, "We stopped during the first caution to work
on our shifter and then during the second caution we came in and got
as much fuel into our BellSouth Chevrolet as we could.  It was enough
to allow us to run to the end of the race and we finally found victory
lane in '97!"

Commenting on his relative lack of road course experience Christian
stated, "The first 30 laps of the race were almost a practice session,
I was learning the track and honing my shifting points.  We only made
about half the race last year when we experienced rear end trouble."

Busch Pole qualifying was conducted European style with four groups of
11 cars taking to the 2.1 mile road course, each attempting to secure
a timed lap that would qualify them for the 32 car starting field.
NASCAR Winston Cup Series star Bobby Hamilton captured his first
career Busch Pole in NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series competition, and
became the ninth different pole sitter in 12 series events, as he
clicked off a lap of 86.369 seconds which equated to 87.531 mph.

The event served as an invitational event for drivers from the NASCAR
Featherlite Southwest and Reb-Co Northwest Tours with drivers from
those respective series capturing the next four of five starting
positions.  Northwest Tour driver Greg

Biffle earned the outside front row starting position while Fairfield,
CA's Jim Inglebright qualified third in front of NASCAR Craftsman
Truck Series standout Ron Hornaday, Jr.  The third row was made up of
John Metcalf and M.K. Kanke, two more regulars on the Featherlite
Southwest Tour.

Only one lap had been completed when the first full course caution was
displayed after the Wattyl Paints Chevrolet of Toronto, Ontario,
Canada's John Cadman experienced engine problems and came to rest in a
precarious position just off of the race course.  When green flag
racing resumed Hamilton took advantage of his top starting position
and quickly moved back around Biffle after the Spokane, WA driver led
the first lap.  Hamilton paced the field until lap nine when Biffle
once again displayed his road course prowess and regained the lead.

The race's second and final caution period occurred on lap 12 when
several cars got off the track at several locations as a result of oil
on the racing surface.  It was during this extended caution that
Shumate made the call for Christian to pit, change tires and top off
the fuel.  It proved to be a winning choice as Shumate's strategy paid
off for the BellSouth team.  As other drivers pitted at later stages
in the race Christian continued his climb to the top spot, eventually
taking over on lap 35 and staying out front until the checkered flag
waved.  Milford, OH's Fultz led once for nine laps in his King
Motorsports Chevrolet enroute to a second place finish in his first
ever road race and Roxboro, NC's Carl Long drove his Austin Cracker
Sandwiches Chevrolet to a third place finish.  Rounding out the top
five were polesitter Hamilton and Hank Parker, Jr., in Parker's first
ever road course start as well.  Rounding out the top 10 were Tony
Toste, Ron Young, Sean Monroe, Kanke and Hal Goodson.

With his second place finish Fultz extended his points lead to 77 over
Goodson while Young displaced David Reutimann for the third spot with
Reutimann dropping to fourth.  Nipper Alsup maintained the fifth spot
in the Slim Jim All Pro Series point standings.  With his win
Christian moved from ninth to eighth in the annual points dash.
Long's weekend proved to be very successful as he was the top
qualifying Slim Jim All Pro Series regular, then, by virtue of his
third place finish, earned the Port City Racing Rookie of the Race
honors for the third time this year.  Reutimann, who earned Rookie of
the Race Runner-Up honors, now leads Long by 32 points in the season
long rookie battle.  Shumate picked up $300 as his crack decisions
propelled his driver to victory lane and earned himself the Jasper
Engines and Transmissions Crew Chief Challenge Award.  Shumate now
trails the triumvirate of Michael Williams, Larry Rapp and Jimmy King
who guide the team efforts for Wayne Anderson, Young and Fultz
respectively.  Shumate is just four points behind the trio.  The next
event for the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series will take place at
Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, SC.  The Bi-Lo Bonuscard
200 is scheduled for Saturday night, August 2.  -30- For further
information contact NASCAR Public Relations at (770) 486-3591.  jn