Darlington Pre-qualifying Notes

TranSouth Financial 400 Notebook Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 19, 1998) Mike Skinner, driver of the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet, is still on the mend from an accident in the PRIMESTAR 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on...

TranSouth Financial 400 Notebook Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online

DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 19, 1998) Mike Skinner, driver of the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet, is still on the mend from an accident in the PRIMESTAR 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Monday, March 9, and his injuries have not healed as quickly as team officials would have hoped.

With that in mind, Morgan Shepherd will be used as a relief driver for Skinner in this weekend's TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway.

"At the first caution, we'll put Morgan in the car," said Richard Childress, owner of the No. 31 Chevrolet. "We want Mike to heal up completely. I've made the mistake in the past of having drivers drive hurt, and it just slows up the healing process."

Skinner suffered deep bruises in his right shoulder and a neck injury when a tire shredded and he hit the wall in turn 3 at Atlanta. Skinner is still complaining of his left leg giving him trouble, and he is a left-foot braker.

Bud Moore Engineering continues to strive towards its goals this season, and the primary one is just to get a NASCAR Winston Cup Series car back on the track. The team had a proposed partnership with driver Tim Steele and his father, Harold, for the 1998 season, but lingering effects from a accident in testing in Atlanta last fall have prevented Steele from getting back behind the wheel.

The team is now seeking potential sponsors until he has recovered.

"We never got to finish putting together the proposed partnership with Tim and Harold due to some recurring vision problems Tim encountered during our January test at Daytona," said Team Manager Greg Moore. "The door is still open for him to drive the car, if conditions are correct down the road, but we felt like it was in everybody's best interest to go in a little bit different direction. We hope to go out and do some running while Tim concentrates on getting well.

"We've still got a great relationship with Tim and Harold, it's just an unfortunate set of circumstances that has put us both in this position. Everything we've done has been in good faith and with good intentions. We hope Tim gets well soon and all of us look forward to the day that he can get back in a race car."

Bud Moore Engineering, a staple in NASCAR Winston Cup Series history, has not run a race competitively in the series since 1996.

Moore said that, in the meantime, cars are being prepared, and even if Steele isn't behind the wheel, the team hopes to be ready to race by May and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"We're getting Tauruses ready," Moore said. "We were a little bit behind on that, but we're preparing cars and getting motors ready. We're looking at other options that would allow us to go out and run, hopefully as early as Charlotte. We don't feel that we're gonna be in a position to do what we need to do and put everything in place until probably Charlotte. Hopefully, we can come back by then, but it all depends on sponsorship."

Ron Hornaday says he'll be prepared when he gets behind the wheel of the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet this weekend at Darlington. Hornaday will qualify the car on Friday in an attempt to gain a starting spot in the field for Sunday's race in place of Steve Park, who was injured in an accident two weeks ago at Atlanta.

Hornaday, who tested the car at Darlington last week, was named the interim driver for the No. 1 team earlier this week, and could possibly also drive the car next weekend at Bristol in the Food City 500.

"It's just going to be a matter of me getting laps," Hornaday said. "I am the type of person who doesn't show everything in testing. Testing doesn't pay. I'm happy because we went to Darlington last week and got comfortable, got some good notes, then came back and thought about what it takes to make the Pennzoil Monte Carlo go faster. Our goal is to make the race. We are going to the track with the first priority of making the race."

The 1996 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, Hornaday won the season-opening race at Walt Disney World Speedway in January, the 18th triumph of his career. He won't be able to fill in for Park after Bristol, when he returns to the truck schedule with a race at Homestead, Fla.

Richard Labbe has been promoted to crew chief on the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford driven by Kenny Irwin. Labbe replaces Marc Reno, who was let go by Robert Yates prior to the Atlanta race.

Dale Earnhardt needs just one win at Darlington to tie David Pearson as the all-time winningest driver in the track's history. Pearson won 10 races at the track "Too Tough to Tame." Earnhardt's last victory at the 1.366-mile oval was the 1994 TranSouth Financial 400.

Bobby Labonte won the previous NASCAR Winston Cup Series race, the PRIMESTAR 500 at Atlanta, in a Pontiac. But the last driver to win a race at Darlington in a Pontiac was Joe Weatherly, who won the 1963 Rebel 300 in a Pontiac prepared by Bud Moore.

Bill Elliott, Ken Schrader and Geoff Bodine are the only active drivers with more than two career poles at Darlington. Elliott has five, while Bodine has four and Schrader three.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Bobby Labonte , Steve Park , Mike Skinner , Ken Schrader , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Morgan Shepherd , Robert Yates , Greg Moore , David Pearson