Joy and sorrow for Skinner at Richmond

Mike Skinner earned the Budweiser pole for Saturday night's Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond with a lap of 125.792 mph, sparking jubilation among the No. 01 team. Unhappily, the celebration only lasted for about forty-five minutes. Skinner,...

Mike Skinner earned the Budweiser pole for Saturday night's Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond with a lap of 125.792 mph, sparking jubilation among the No. 01 team. Unhappily, the celebration only lasted for about forty-five minutes.

Skinner, who wrecked his primary car in morning practice (then scoring the pole with his back-up vehicle), smacked the wall for a second time during the practice session that commenced after Winston Cup time trials.

"We've had a hard time; we wrecked the car on the very first lap on the racetrack. I really still don't know what happened," said Skinner of his initial accident.

Despite the heartbreaking luck, it still counts in the NASCAR history books as Skinner's sixth career pole, second at Richmond, and first since April of 2000. Sadly, the No. 01 team will have start at the rear of the field Saturday night; they are bringing in a third car from their race shop in Concord, North Carolina.

Skinner is seat-warming for the injured Jerry Nadeau, who is the contracted driver of the No. 01 Pontiac. Nadeau was hurt during a practice crash at this track earlier in the year, and is currently concentrating on recuperating from those wounds.

"That's pretty awesome," said Nadeau, before Skinner's second crash."I'm glad to see the car upfront. I'm sure he'll have a good time tomorrow night."

Skinner's tumble to the back of the pack puts rookie Greg Biffle into the catbird seat. Biffle landed the outside pole with a lap of 125.646 mph.

"Not very often do you put down a perfect lap, you maybe leave a tiny bit out there. I left a little bit out there," said Biffle. "We should have had the pole, but I made a small mistake there.but on the other hand I am really happy to start second."

Teammate Mark Martin rolls off third, with Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon rounding out the top five.

"That first lap is really a throw-away lap," said Gordon. "You're trying t get heat in the tires and get a balance and feel for the car. I couldn't get after it as much as I could in practice and that's where we lost a little bit of speed. But I'm really happy with that."

Tony Stewart, who charted the quickest lap in the first practice at 126.180 mph, dropped off considerably during his time trial effort. The No. 20 Chevy ran a 124.372 mph and will take the green flag from the 14th starting spot.

Stewart wasn't the only team that saw a dip in lap times between practice and qualifying. During the morning round, 17 teams ran over 125 mph; some three hours later only the top five ran times over 125 mph.

Defending race winner and championship point frontrunner Matt Kenseth looks to enhance his series lead from the 18th position.

In addition to Skinner's crash this morning, Steve Park and Christian Fittipaldi also crippled their primary cars against the newly installed soft wall in turn one. Both had to take provisionals, and respectively start 39th and 41rst.

Forty-five teams attempted to qualify for the forty-three car field, failing to qualify were Billy Bigley and Larry Foyt.

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Steve Park , Mike Skinner , Greg Biffle , Jerry Nadeau , Ryan Newman , Larry Foyt , Billy Bigley , Mark Martin