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NASCAR Winston Cup Pepsi 400 Preview -- #31, Mike Skinner

1 July 1997

 #31 Mike Skinner, Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo 
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Pepsi 400 Advance
 Daytona International Speedway
                MIKE SKINNER NOTES & QUOTES: PEPSI 400

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - It shouldn't come as a surprise that Mike Skinner is 
"quite anxious" to get back to Daytona International Speedway. Skinner, a 
rookie on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, surprised a lot of people in 
February when he won the pole position for the Daytona 500.

 - After leading the first lap of the 500, Skinner ran in the top three until 
lap 49 when he pitted under the second yellow flag. A 15-second penalty was 
assessed the Lowe's team when NASCAR ruled a tire carrier had come over the 
wall "too soon." The infraction dropped Skinner to 21st. He rallied to finish 
12th. "We had a better car than where we finished," says Skinner. "I think we 
took a first-place car and finished 12th with it."

 - Skinner will be driving the same car in Saturday's Pepsi 400 that won the 
Daytona 500 pole. "I'm really looking forward to Daytona," says Skinner. 
"We've really got a good program for Daytona and Talladega, and I think we've 
got a shot at winning at one of these places if we can eliminate our 
mistakes. I really think the second time around at these places we are going 
to be a lot better. If we can get some good pit stops and stay in the front 
pack all day, we might pull another surprise at Daytona."

 - Despite three straight finishes of 31st or worse, Skinner believes the 
Lowe's team is "ready to turn the corner. Both the crew and I have made a lot 
of rookie mistakes during the first half, but we've had some good race cars. 
We just haven't taken advantage of them. My confidence level is still quite 
high. I feel all of us have learned a lot and are ready to start showing just 
how good this Lowe's team is."

 - Following his career-best finish of ninth in the Miller 500 at Dover Downs 
International Speedway a month ago, Skinner stood 23rd in the point race. But 
engine failure at Pocono, an early-race skirmish with Geoff Bodine at 
Michigan that led to a fiery crash and a burned rear end gear at California 
have dropped Skinner to 28th. "We need a good finish at Daytona, something to 
put an end to this slump," says Skinner. "And if I could have picked a track 
for us to get out of this slump, it would have been Daytona. I feel that good 
about this weekend."

 - Only 11 drivers have led five or more races this season, and Skinner is 
one of them. 

 - Despite Skinner's recent run of bad luck, he still holds a comfortable 
lead in the race for the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Award. 
Skinner leads David Green by 50 points, 167-117, with Robby Gordon next with 
107 points. Jeff Green stands fourth with 44 points.

 - Only the top 15 finishes count in the rookie point race. Thus all four of 
the contenders still have plenty of races left to boost their point totals. 
"It's still a wide-open affair," says Skinner. "Jeff Green may have gotten a 
late start, but he's going to be a factor in the rookie race. I know we've 
got to start finishing in the top 10 if we want to win this thing."

 - The Pepsi 400 is the midway point of the 32-race campaign.

By Sports Marketing Enterprises