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NASCAR Winston Cup Series DieHard 500 Preview: #31, Mike Skinner

8 October 1997

 #31 Mike Skinner, Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 DieHard 500 Advance
 Talladega Superspeedway
TALLADEGA, AL - Mike Skinner has won the pole position for two of the three 
restrictor-plate races that have been run this season -- the Daytona 500 and 
the Pepsi 400. And he was fifth fastest in qualifying for the Winston 500 at 
Talladega in May.

 - Skinner has led all three restrictor-plate races this season. However, his 
best finish in the three races has been 12th in the Daytona 500.

 - In the first race at Talladega, Skinner ran in the top five for the first 
100 laps, but he ran out of gas as he was getting ready to make his second 
pit stop. That dropped him from second to 25th, and Skinner rallied to finish 
16th. "I still believe we had the best car at Talladega," says Skinner. "The 
crew thought we could go five more laps, but we ran out and we still can't 
figure out why. You don't get many chances in this business to win, and we 
had a winning car that day. But I guess it wasn't meant for us to win that 

 - After becoming the first driver to win the pole position for both races at 
Daytona International Speedway in his rookie season, Skinner hit the wall on 
lap 34 of the Pepsi 400 after being clipped by another car. As a result, he 
finished 34th. "I think we had a car that could have won that race, too," 
says Skinner. "But another driver wasn't too patient. And it cost us -- big 
time." Skinner finished 41st.

 - The Lowe's team has rebuilt the car that was wrecked at Daytona in July. 
"We tested it a couple of weeks ago at Talladega, and it feels just as fast 
as before," says Skinner.

"So I feel real good about how we're going to run (in Sunday's DieHard 500 at 
Talladega Superspeedway). I just want to be running in the top five with 15 
laps to go. If we can be in that position, I think we'll have a chance to win 

 - Skinner knows he and the Lowe's team need a "big morale boost" after 
failing to qualify for the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 
"That was one of the worst weeks of my racing life -- probably the worst 
one," says Skinner. "We really need a good finish this week, and that's why 
I'm glad Talladega is next. If we can run as well there as we did the first 
time and not have any problems, we can win it."

 - Despite failing to qualify at Charlotte, Skinner still leads the race for 
the Rookie of the Year Award by a comfortable 32 points. Skinner has earned 
213 rookie points compared to 181 for Robby Gordon, 179 for David Green and 
159 for Jeff Green.

By Sports Marketing Enterprises