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Skinner wins WC pole at Richmond, then crashes
RICHMOND, Va. -- Mike Skinner made a surprising comeback after crashing in practice Friday and got his sixth career Winston Cup pole in a backup car at Richmond International Raceway.
The recovery was dramatic for Skinner, who called his run "a little bit of fuel for the soul." But it also was short-lived. After winning the pole, his Pontiac went through some oil on the track in another practice session and slammed into the wall.
The race team, which has used several drivers since Jerry Nadeau was seriously injured in a crash during practice here in May, summoned a second backup car from Charlotte, N.C.
Skinner, whose lap at 125.792 mph bumped Greg Biffle to the outside of the front row, will now start at the back of the field Saturday night in the Chevrolet 400.
Before his up and down day went steeply down again, Skinner joked with Nadeau about painting the car a different color just for Richmond.
"'You didn't make it through practice and I didn't make it a lap before I tore the hell out of it,"' he told a laughing Nadeau, hospitalized for 3 1/2 weeks in Richmond after his accident May 2.
Starting after the Ford of Biffle will be the Taurus of his Roush Racing teammate, Mark Martin. It was the fourth strong qualifying effort in five races for Martin, winless in his last 49 starts. Ryan Newman, who lead's NASCAR's top circuit with five victories and six poles, was next in a Dodge.
After Newman came the Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon. Sterling Marlin was sixth-fastest in a Dodge, and Jeff Burton's Ford gave Roush three of the top seven spots in the 43-car field.
The race will be the first run on the three-quarter-mile oval since NASCAR asked the track to install a Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier on the walls in the turns. Richmond is the first short track to add the so-called soft walls.
Stewart, making only his third career appearance in the series, started 27th in a field of 36. He took his Chevrolet to the lead for the second time when he passed longtime leader Bobby Hamilton on the 177th lap of the Virginia is for Lovers 200, then had to earn it to the end.
Robert Pressley passed Musgrave with just over two laps to go to get second. Musgrave was followed across the line by Jon Wood, Dennis Setzer, Rick Crawford and new Craftsman series points leader Brendan Gaughan.
A Busch representative called the sheriff's department Wednesday, asking that the case be dropped, sheriff's Capt. Jack Welsh said Friday.