Skinner wins WC pole at Richmond, then crashes

Saturday, September 6, 2003

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.

Elsewhere

  • IRL: Tomas Scheckter turned in the fastest practice lap Friday, running 223.810 to earn the pole for Sunday's Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Richie Hearn qualified at 223.511, and Kenny Brack was next at 222.870 on an afternoon marked by the return of Felipe Giaffone, who broke his right leg and pelvis in a crash July 6. Giaffone qualified sixth.

  • TRUCK SERIES: Tony Stewart passed Ted Musgrave for the lead with 16 laps to go late Thursday and got his second consecutive NASCAR truck series victory at Richmond International Raceway.

    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.

  • NASCAR SUIT: Driver Kurt Busch dropped his assault complaint against rival Jimmy Spencer, who punched him in the face after a race last month at Michigan International Speedway.

    A Busch representative called the sheriff's department Wednesday, asking that the case be dropped, sheriff's Capt. Jack Welsh said Friday.

    Locally

  • Auto Tire and Parts Racepark takes this week off because of the opening of the SEMO District Fair. Racing returns Sept. 13 with the final points night of the season in every class except sprints. Points leaders going into the final points event are Joe Morris (late models), Leo Kiefer (modifieds), Greg Casey (pure street stocks) and Jason Guardian and Daniel Hancock (cruisers).

  • The Ted Horn 100 for USAC Silver Crown cars, which was rained out last weekend, is reset for today at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds. Qualifying is at 6 p.m., followed by the 100-lap Silver Crown race and double features for United Midwestern Promoters modifieds.

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