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

28 August 1997

 #31 Mike Skinner, Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo 
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Mountain Dew Southern 500 Advance
 Darlington Raceway
DARLINGTON, SC - Skinner suffered a bruised knee in the Goody's Headache 
Powder 500 at Bristol, Tn. But he will be 100 percent for this weekend's 
Mountain Dew Southern 500. "It was a little sore for a couple of days, but 
it's fine now," said Skinner, who tested out the knee on the golf course 
Tuesday afternoon.

 - Skinner was one of the first drivers to test at the "new" Darlington 
Raceway. He and Steve Grissom took a break from their test session on Aug. 
12 to help paint the new start-finish line. "I heard a lot about the 
Darlington stripe," says Skinner with a grin, "This time I gave the track 
the stripe instead of it giving one to me. That felt good."

 - Skinner said the track may have a new start-finish line and a new 
frontstretch, but "it is the same ole Darlington. It is still one tough 
race track. It is still extremely difficult to get around," says Skinner. 
"That hasn't changed. I know every time I've run at Darlington I have had 
problems with the west corners (now turns three and four). But I feel a lot 
better about getting through it after the test."

 - Even though his test speeds didn't compare to the ones run by Jeff 
Gordon, Bill Elliott and Jeff Burton, Skinner was still pleased with the 
session. "We tried a lot of different things," says Skinner. "And we 
learned a lot. We feel we are going to be in pretty good shape when we go 

 - The rookie driver feels one of the things many of his fellow competitors 
don't realize is that the new configuration means the old backstretch pit 
road is now the frontstretch pits. "And I know better than most how tough 
it is to get into what is now the frontstretch pits," says Skinner. Good 
pit strategy by crew chief Kevin Hamlin had put skinner out front in the 
spring race at Darlington. But after leading laps 105-112, Skinner "messed 
up big time" as it took him three laps to get into the pits. "I was running 
too fast both times," he says. "You've got to slow down going into three to 
get in those pits. You can't some around four and dive off. You won't make 

 - This will be Skinner's second Southern 500. He competed in the 1993 
event for Jimmy Means. Skinner started 36th and had moved into the top-20 
when he suffered engine failure only 145 laps into the race. 

 - With 10 races left in the race for the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of 
the Year Award, Skinner holds a comfortable 34-point lead over Robby 
Gordon. Skinner has been the top finishing rookie in 12 of the 22 races run 
so far this season.

By Sports Marketing Enterprises