Darlington Friday Notes

TranSouth Financial 400 Friday notebook By Shawn A. Akers NASCAR Online DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 19, 1999) Some notes and quotes Friday surrounding Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway: ...

TranSouth Financial 400 Friday notebook By Shawn A. Akers NASCAR Online DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 19, 1999) Some notes and quotes Friday surrounding Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway:

MIKE SKINNER If you don't believe Mike Skinner's for real yet, then you might not ever believe it. The driver of the No. 31 Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet does continue to impress, however, as he fashioned his fourth straight top-10 qualifying effort on Friday (fourth) for the TranSouth Financial 400. "The driver is just killing this race team in one corner or another," Skinner said. "We kicked their tail in one and two. I got in the corner in turn three real good. It stuck and I turned that thing down. When I hit the gas, I just tried to get a little more than was there, and I cost us a little bit from four the start-finish line, but we'll take it. "We're at Darlington. This is a place where I usually don't qualify or run very good. Hopefully we can race 'em Sunday." Skinner leads Bobby Labonte by 32 points in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings after four races. RICKY RUDD As amazing as it is, Ricky Rudd is in danger of missing his first race in quite some time this weekend. The driver of the No. 10 Tide Ford has 544 consecutive starts in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, third all-time behind Terry Labonte (6030 and Dale Earnhardt (583). Rudd is currently 35th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, and qualified a disappointing 40th on Friday. So, is Rudd's situation stressful at this point? "It can be if you let it get to you," said Rudd, whose qualifying lap was 169.473 mph. "It's basically like walking the trapeze up in the air and not having a safety net. We have a goal, it's not real pretty, but our goal is to log some points like we've been trying to do. We're trying to get that point deal wo where we've got a little safety net, and we don't have it right now." Roush Racing drivers had a good qualifying day on Friday. Johnny Benson was the best of the five Roush drivers, qualifying on the outside of the front row (172.541 mph). Mark Martin qualified third (171.878), Kevin Lepage seventh (171.764) and Jeff Burton was ninth (171.638). Chad Little was the only Roush driver not to qualify in the top-10. He was 22nd at 170.756 mph. Rick Mast gave the Yarborough-Burdette team a much-needed lift on Friday. Mast qualified the No. 98 Ford in the sixth position with a fast lap of 171.764 mph. Mast is currently 16th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings for a team without a primary sponsor. "We unloaded about 30th-fastest and ended up about 20th-fastest in practice," Mast said. "Then we did some stuff to the race car, made some changes, and it all worked. The problem is I left a little bit out there in three and four. "All these things each week keep happening to us and it keeps getting a little better each week, running a little better. We've been in the first round everywhere except Rockingham, of course this is our best to date, so we've gotta take this weekend and try to build on it for Texas."

TONY STEWART When it comes to qualifying, Tony Stewart sure hasn't acted like a rookie this season. The driver of Joe Gibbs' No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac earned his third top-10 qualifying spot in five races this season with a 10th-place effort on Friday. "I'm really happy with our run," Stewart said. "I didn't think we could run that fast. I'm definitely happy with where we're at right now." Dale Earnhardt is looking to tie David Pearson, the Ol' Silver Fox, for career NASCAR Winston Cup victories at Darlington Raceway with a win at the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval on Sunday. Pearson holds the record at Darlington with 10 NASCAR Winston Cup wins, while Earnhardt, who last won there in 1994, has nine. He'll have a lot of work to do in order to accomplish that goal, however. Another mediocre qualifying run, of 30th at 170.324, guarantees him another middle-to-the-back-of-the-pack start. Matt Kenseth had a disappointing qualifying run while filling in for Bobby Labonte in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac. The NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division regular, subbing for Labonte, who broke a tip of his right scapula in Friday morning NASCAR Busch Series practice, qualified 34th with a best lap of 169.812 mph. "I think I left a little bit out there," Kenseth said. "This team asked me if I would help them out and I'm glad I can. I hate it's under these circumstances." Kenseth made his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut at Dover Downs last season while subbing for Bill Elliott in the No. 94 McDonald's Ford. He finished a surprising sixth.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Mike Skinner , Kevin Lepage , Johnny Benson , Chad Little , Rick Mast , Mark Martin