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California 500 Saturday Notebook By Bill Frederickson FONTANA, Calif. (May 2, 1998) Some notes and quotes from the California 500 presented by NAPA at California Speedway. After a decision was made Saturday morning by team owner ...

California 500 Saturday Notebook By Bill Frederickson

FONTANA, Calif. (May 2, 1998) Some notes and quotes from the California 500 presented by NAPA at California Speedway.

After a decision was made Saturday morning by team owner Richard Childress, Lowe's Chevrolet driver Mike Skinner limped to pit road to make a lap in Bud Second-Round Qualifying. Mike Dillon, a regular on the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, had practiced with the car and turned in a lap in during Friday's Bud Pole Qualifying session. So Skinner, who was injured in an accident at Texas, got back in the driver's seat and posted a lap at 179.444 mph to claim the 27th starting spot.

"I feel OK. But, man, the car was perfect," Skinner said. "It was just really, really good out there."

The Susanville, Calif., native is now scheduled to start the California 500 presented by NAPA, but what he'll do after that remains to be seen.

"I qualified the car today, so I'll have to start the race," Skinner said. "We're hoping to work it out so Mike Dillon can take over on the first pit stop. If not, I'm not sure what I'll do.

Dillon and the Lowe's crew had troubles on Friday, prompting the Skinner to get behind the wheel for the first time since his accident.

"Yesterday, they had some ductwork fall down on the car and I think that hurt Mike some," Skinner said. "He was a little bit inconsistent. We just felt like we might be in provisional trouble if some of the good cars didn't qualify well today."

Darrell Waltrip won't be wearing his chrome helmet in Sunday's race that he has sported since 1995. Instead, the driver of the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet will switch to a Pennzoil helmet, with a yellow and black color scheme.

Waltrip said he suspects his chrome helmet is the cause for radio interference that he and his Dale Earnhardt Inc., crew have suffered through in recent weeks.

"I guess my chrome helmet has made the ozone mad or something," Waltrip said.

"Ever since I started using the chrome helmets our teams have had an unusual amount of radio problems. We think it might have something to do with the chrome and the car's ignitions. What I have found out is that the chrome helmet causes the ignition to be picked up in the radios."

Waltrip has heard other drivers complain of similar problems.

"Bill Simpson (helmet manufacturer) told me Michael Andretti has run an all-chrome helmet in CART and had the same problems," he said. "This weekend will be a test. I'm going to run a helmet painted in Pennzoil's colors of yellow and black to see if the radio problems are really in the helmet, or if the problems are just in the driver's head."

With improved performances, come increased expectations for Jeremy Mayfield. The young gun who sits second in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings qualified on the front row for Sunday's race. While he and his Mobil 1 Ford team are pleased with their effort, they are no longer overwhelmed by their success.

"I think it's different because even though we qualified second yesterday, it wasn't a big deal," Mayfield said. "Last year, if we would have qualified second it would have been a huge deal. We've had such a good year and I guess we expect more of ourselves than that now."

While his quantum leap in the point standings and consistently strong runs have grabbed their share of headlines, Mayfield said there is only one goal for he and his team.

"I think if we finish second tomorrow it would be good," Mayfield said, "but now it's to the point where nothing is going to matter until we win that race."

Only 11 times in the 50 years of NASCAR have brothers won consecutive races. Terry and Bobby Labonte accomplished this feat twice in 1995.

Now, they hope to pull it off again. Bobby, who will start Sunday's race from the fourth row, drove his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac to victory at last week's DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Terry, starting from the fifth row on Sunday, is aiming to collect his first series victory of the season.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Mike Skinner , Michael Andretti