1998-99 Round 9

Firestone 400 - Mini Milwaukee Mile - Franklin, WI

January 7, 1999

Round 9 of 16

1998 Firestone 400


-Rookie Rotter with sensational third-place effort-

Franklin, WI (Jan. 7th, 1999) - In one of the longest, most-bizarre evenings in the history of the series, plagued by scoring and equipment delays, Phil Cianciola once again showed the speed and patience that has made him a four-time SlotCART champion. After qualifying second -and winning his heat race, Cianciola had to handle a long delay before the Final, while timing and scoring problems were corrected. He then had to handle the push from Dan Margetta at the end of the race, which also took patience. Both were on the same lap with 20 laps to go on the tight and incredibly demanding Mini Milwaukee Mile. With the Firestone 400 crown awaiting the winner, Cianciola was filling Margetta's mirrors in an attempt to put "Dangerous Dan" a lap down. That's when Margetta had a bobble in turns one and two and Cianciola streaked away for his first win of the year and the 15th win of his career, tying him with Jim Kaehny for the title of all-time winningest driver in the series.

"It feels great to be back in victory lane," said Cianciola. "That was a real fun battle with Margetta. The race could have gone either way there at the end." The win moved Cianciola up from third to first in the fight for the PPPG Cup, with seven races remaining on the schedule. Margetta, who qualified a strong third and also won his heat race, but saw his string of two victories in a row snapped. "I blew it," explained Margetta. "I lost it coming into that turn with 20 (laps) to go. But this is like a win for us because we haven't done that well on ovals this season."

It was a career night for rookie Larry Rotter, who debuted a new Pennzoil-sponsored Toyota-Penske car. After qualifying a career-high fourth on the grid, Rotter calmly chopped away at the leaders, utilizing a solid pit stop along the way. If fact, as Margetta said with a surprise in his voice afterward, "That Rotter almost caught me there for second place!" Now solidly the leader for Rookie of the Year honors, a smiling Rotter said after the race, "We just kept trying out there and things worked out."

Jim Kaehny struggled with marbles, tramc, and accidents out in the Red lane and could do no better than fourth place. His Team Frugal Homebrewer partners didn't fare any better, with owner John Baas failing to grid with an unexplainable last-place finish. It's unexplainable in part due to the fact that Baas won the race held at this same Mini Mile track back in the first half of the season. And Phil Marich could only muster a win in the Consi, after his car suffered electrical problems so severe he had to drop out of the competition early in the night.

The Firestone 400 pole position went to Dave Austin, who continued to show newfound speed in the MCI car. But Austin found himself in a mess on the track early in the heat race and it was enough to give both Cianciola and Kaehny a big enough lead to advance to the Final, leaving Austin back in the mid-pack.

Ev Kamikawa came into the Firestone 400 as the PPPG Cup points leader at the holiday break, but he fell in the standings after failing to make the Final Four at a race where he was defending champion. It was a clearly­ frustrated Kamikawa who almost received a marshal abuse warning for numerous outbursts during his heat race. In fact, Kamikawa seemed cranky and belligerent for much of the night at the facility, with some saying it is a side effect of a diet he is currently on.

Final statistics have not been compiled yet by the series office, since there has been a delay in getting the computer data to the offices of SlotCART. A complete and updated fiJ7ish list and current standings chart will be released as soon as it is completed.

The series visits the Edge Superspeedway next for the Jan. 21st DieHard Edge 500. It's an annual open-class race, meaning teams will get the chance to use entirely different setups on their cars for the event.



0    WHAT: The 4th annual Firestone 400

0    WHERE: The Mini Milwaukee Mile       Franklin, WI

0    WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 7th, 6:30 p.m.



0    TRACK LAYOUT: "Bullring" short oval

0   RACE LENGTH: 400 laps

0   RACE RECORDS: Qualifying- 323 laps John Shea      1996

Race-      400 laps/10.22  Arnie Lueders  1996

0   RACE #: 9 of 16

0   NEXT EVENT: The DieHard Edge 500

Thursday, Jan. 21st

The Edge Super Speedway  New Berlin, WI


A snowstorm postponed the race from a Thursday night to Saturday afternoon at the actual Milwaukee Mile offices, where it was cold outside...the wind chill was -30°!

Inside on the track it was all Ev Kamikawa from the pole. He won by 15 laps over Jim Kaehny who needed oxygen after being pulled from his car after a final-lap crash into the wall.




Race Winner

Pole Winner












Things to watch for this year...

He's the points leader and the defending champion of this race, so put Ev Kamikawa down as a favorite. Dan Margetta has won the last two races, now the hottest driver on the circuit. The only other past winner of this race is Phil Cianciola, who has had a strong first half of the season. Keep an eye on Dave Austin here too, after one heck of a comeback statement by taking second in the Christmas race.