Kevin Van Dam and Winston Cup driver Jeff Burton take Inaugural Celebrity Classic
ORLANDO, Fla., June 5, 2002 - Reigning CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic Champion Kevin VanDam and Jeff Burton, driver of the #99 CITGO Winston Cup car, teamed up on Wednesday to land 14 pounds, 7 ounces of bass and claim the inaugural championship of the CITGO BASSMASTER Celebrity Challenge on Bay Lake.
VanDam and Burton easily outdistanced the second place duo of Texas pro Jay Yelas and driver Kurt Busch by 1-10. Third place went to the combo of Florida pro Shaw Grigsby and NASCAR driver Hank Parker Jr. with 12-4, fourth place was North Carolina pro Marty Stone and Todd Bodine with 11-15. Fifth place went to Alabama pro Gerald Swindle and Greg Biffle with 11-13 and the sixth place team was Triton Boats' Earl Bentz and driver Jeff Green with 11-5.
"We didn't get the quality bites we would have liked this morning, but we caught a lot of fish," explained VanDam, who along with Burton caught fish with a Strike King Series 5 crankbait (Chartreuse/blueback) and a 4S Crankbait. "We were actually kind of worried about a few of the fish we lost this morning. All of these guys are extremely intense competitors, so this was a lot of fun."
"I had a blast today," added Burton. "Sometimes in racing we get so intense with the competition we forget to have fun. Today was fun. We caught a limit this morning, then went to work on catching more. And we raised money for a very worthwhile cause in the process."
CITGO Petroleum Corporation made a donation of $10,000 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) in conjunction with the event. The event will air as part of ESPN2's coverage of the CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic on July 26 from 4-5 p.m. (ET)
Due to the unique rules in the event, the driver was required to catch the first keeper fish of the day before the B.A.S.S. pro could keep a fish. This set up an interesting combination for the second place team of Yelas and Busch. Busch, who is from Washington state, had never attempted to fish for bass prior to this event.
"We were worried about him catching fish," explained Yelas, who caught 7 fewer ounces of bass than did his partner. "I would say for someone that has never fished for bass before that it was an outstanding start."
Biffle said that he gained a respect for what the professional anglers go through.
"This seems so similar to what we do and what goes on in any other competitive sport," explained Biffle. "These guys have to have a level of concentration, finesse and technique. It is so much fun to see these guys at work."
By sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide, B.A.S.S. is the world's largest fishing organization. The CITGO BASSMASTER Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit. It continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism, and sportsmanship after more than three decades. B.A.S.S. is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESPN.
For more information, contact B.A.S.S. Communications at (334) 272-9530.
Results from the CITGO BASSMASTER Celebrity Challenge
Angler Driver Total
Kevin VanDam Jeff Burton 14-7
Jay Yelas Kurt Busch 12-13
Shaw Grigsby Hank Parker, Jr. 12-4
Marty Stone Todd Bodine 11-15
Gerald Swindle Greg Biffle 11-13
Earl Bentz Jeff Green 11-5
B.A.S.S. Communications (334) 272-9530