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NASCAR Winston Cup Series UAW-GM Quality 500 Preview: #31, Mike Skinner

1 October 1997

 #31 Mike Skinner, Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 UAW-GM Quality 500 Advance
 Charlotte Motor Speedway

CONCORD, NC - Mike Skinner has been the top finishing rookie in 14 of the 27 
races run so far this 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup season. David Green has been 
the top finishing rookie six times. Robby Gordon has been the top rookie in 
five races, while Jeff Green has been the top finishing first-year driver 
on two occasions. 

 - Skinner has won more poles than any other rookie this season -- two to 
one for Gordon. Neither Green has yet to win a pole. 

 - Skinner has more top-10s than any other rookie -- three to one for 
Gordon and one for Jeff Green. David Green has not finished in the top-10 
so far this year. 

 - Skinner has more top-15s than any other rookie -- four to two for Gordon 
and one for Jeff Green and none for David Green. 

 - Skinner has more top-20 finishes than any other rookie -- eight to six 
for David Green, four for Gordon and two for Jeff Green. 

 - As a result, Skinner holds a comfortable 213-181 point lead over Gordon 
in the race for the Rookie of the Year Award. David Green is third with 175 
rookie points, while brother Jeff has earned 156 rookie points. 

 - The only rookie category that Skinner does not lead is top fives. He has 
none, while Gordon finished fourth for the lone top five by a rookie driver 
this season. 

 - Despite his 32-point lead in the battle for the Rookie of the Year 
title, Skinner is not ready to say he has accomplished one of his major 
goals for his first full season of Winston Cup racing. "People keep 
forgetting that it is your best 15 finishes, so all Robby or David or Jeff 
have to do is get hot and put together three or four real good runs and 
that lead is erased," says Skinner. "People have asked me to sign 'Rookie 
of the Year, 1997' recently. I'm not ready to do that. The rookie deal is 
not over." 

 - Skinner thought he was going to get his fourth top 10 of the season in 
the Hanes 500 at Martinsville. "We had a really good car, especially on 
long runs," says Skinner. "We were just pacing ourselves for that last 50 
laps. I was just following the 22 car (Ward Burton). I felt I was quicker 
than he was, but..." Burton and Skinner had just passed Mark Martin and 
Ricky Rudd to move into the top 10 when disaster struck Skinner with 50 
laps to go. Michael Waltrip lost his brakes, hit the wall at the entrance 
to the front straight-away and then bounced off into Skinner. The accident 
ended Skinner's day. "I can't believe our luck," added Skinner. "We can't 
seem to catch a break lately." Ward Burton ended up seventh. 

 - Despite his rash of bad luck since the Brickyard 400, Skinner is still 
convinced he can end the 1997 season on a high note. "We've got some races 
coming up that I feel real good about -- Charlotte, Talladega, Phoenix and 
Atlanta. I think we're going to run real well at each of these places," 
says Skinner. "Of all the races left, Rockingham is the only place where 
I'm not sure how we'll do. But I do know that we expect to run better at 
Rockingham the second time around. So I feel if we can get this gorilla off 
our back, we can put a good ending on this season. We just need a little 
racing luck."

By Sports Marketing Enterprises