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Skinner and Martin Winners in Qualifier and Shootout

7 February 1999

Daytona Beach, FL-February 7, 1999

Under absolutely perfect race conditions for the Bud Shoot-Out Qualifier 25 lap race, Mike Skinner made all the right moves to take the victory. Assuming the lead on lap 12, Skinner in the Lowe's #31 Chevrolet, had the power to drive just about any racing line that he wanted. Robert Pressley, who finished second in the #77 Jasper Engines Ford ran a very strong race but could not find a drafting partner. The main reason Pressley could not find a drafting partner was the fact that following in third was Steve Park in the #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet that is owned by Teresa Earnhardt. For Pressley it was like being the main course in a Childress/Earnhardt sandwich.

The field of 15 cars led by pole-sitter Geoffrey Bodine thundered into Turn 1 and began sorting the running order. Bodine was quickly passed by Robert Pressley leading into Turn 3 on the first lap. Pressley, making a strong move in the Jasper Engines Ford displayed some horsepower and driving finesse that Pressley is hoping to show during the Daytona 500. Pressley held the lead for 9 laps until the mandatory pit stops. All of the competitors except Morgan Shepard and Dan Pardus pitted on lap 10.

The format in each of the 25-lap races is that somewhere around lap 10-15 the teams have to pit and change at least two tires. The #31 Lowe's Chevrolet team was able to get Skinner in and out of the pits under 11 seconds. Remarkable. On lap 12 Skinner made a run for the lead. The running order became a breakaway group of Skinner, Pressley and Park with Elliott and Nemechek slugging it out for fourth place honors. Also making a great showing in the Square D Chevrolet was Kenny Wallace.

For Skinner the race was a victory that removed a huge boulder off of Skinner's shoulders.. In yesterday's qualifying Skinner was asked the question about his chances to win the Daytona 500. Skinner replied "that we might not win the Daytona 500, but it will not be for a lack of preparation." Working for a Richard Childress team is like working for the Dallas Cowboys-Excellence is Expected! Skinner has been methodically working his way up the Winston Cup ladder and learning all the while. Maybe the victory is a good omen for next Sunday's Daytona 500.

The Bud Shoot-Out did not start out very good for Rusty Wallace, became even worse for Jeff Gordon but was terrific for Mark Martin. Wallace, the pole sitter in the #2 Miller Lite Taurus missed the driver's introduction which meant that he would be moved to the back of the pack for the start. Wallace tried to make up for lost ground but could never close the gap on the lead-pack of cars. For Gordon, the missing of a pit box cost him about $100,000. For race winner Mark Martin, the victory could very well be a sign that better times are waiting for this patient man.

The race started out with Kenny Irwin in the #28 Texaco-Havoline Ford leading the 15 car field to the starting line. Irwin's good fortune of leading the race was lost on the next lap to a very determined Rick Mast, that while sponsorless is having a great week at Daytona. Mast and Schrader exchanged the lead over the next three laps. Then Gordon made a move just before the teams were going to come in for their mandatory pitstops. The pitstop for Gordon was routine except for one thing. Gordon had overheated his brakes and missed the pitbox. The infraction cost him a full lap and removed Gordon from any consideration for contesting for the win.

Mark Martin in the #6 Valvoline sponsored Ford inherited the lead during the pitstops. Martin was absolutely dominant during the next 15 laps defeating Schrader by .215seconds. Bobby Labonte came in third with Mike Skinner finishing in fourth.

The Bud Shoot-Out is really nothing more than a test session for these drivers. Yes the money and prestige of winning are important. But it is the first real taste of racing combat that the drivers get during the week. After the teeth smashing, rib kicking time called qualifying the driver's look forward to going back and testing race set-ups for the big prize called the Daytona 500.

David Treffer -- The Auto Channel


FIN STR CAR                                                                
POS POS NO. DRIVER          TEAM/CAR               LAPS  *Winnings Status
 1  13   6  Mark Martin     Valvoline Ford          25   $108,000  Running
 2   4  33  Ken Schrader    Skoal Racing Chevrolet  25    $54,000  Running
 3   9  18  Bobby Labonte   Interstate Pontiac      25    $42,500  Running
 4  15  31  Mike Skinner    Lowe's Chevrolet        25    $61,600  Running
 5   7  12  Jeremy Mayfield Mobil 1 Ford            25    $30,000  Running
 6  11  22  Ward Burton     Caterpillar Pontiac     25    $27,000  Running
 7   1   2  Rusty Wallace   Miller Lite Ford        25    $26,000  Running
 8  14  88  Dale Jarrett    Quality Care Ford       25    $25,500  Running
 9   3  98  Rick Mast       Budweiser Ford          25    $25,000  Running
10   2  28  Kenny Irwin     Texaco Havoline Ford    25    $24,500  Running
11  10   4  Bobby Hamilton  Kodak Film Chevrolet    25    $24,000  Running
12   6  58  Rick Craven     Hollywood Video Ford    25    $23,500  Running
13   5  30  Derrike Cope    Jimmy Dean Pontiac      25    $23,000  Running
14  12  36  Ernie Irvan     M & M's Pontiac         25    $22,500  Running
15   8  24  Jeff Gordon     DuPont Chevrolet        10    $22,000  Not running
TIME OF RACE:      20 min.  38 sec.                         
AVERAGE SPEED:     181.745 mph                              
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.215 sec                               
LEAD CHANGES:      6 LEAD CHANGES AMONG 5 DRIVERS                            

Car      Laps                                 
28        1                                       
98       2-6                               
33        7                                        
98        8                                       
24        9                                       
6       10-25                             
* Includes $26,600 won in Qualifying race