Qualifying: Skinner sets pole then crashes

Mike Skinner, deputising for the injured Jerry Nadeau, took an emotional pole position for Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway, the very track where Nadeau was sidelined following a crash in April - but he will start from the back of the grid after crashing in practice following qualifying

Qualifying: Skinner sets pole then crashes

Skinner made his task tougher by crashing his race car for a first time in practice before qualifying, forcing him into MB2 Motorsports' back-up car for the all-important qualifying session. Running late in the session, Skinner lapped the track in 21.464s (125.792mph) to claim his sixth career pole, but his first since April 1999 - ironically, also at Richmond.

However, the saga took another twist in the practice session following qualifying, when Skinner crashed again, losing control of his Pontiac after running over a patch of oil. Eerily, he hit the wall at the same place and in almost identical fashion as Nadeau did back in April, although Skinner thankfully escaped unhurt.

His car wasn't so lucky, however, and MB2 Motorsports had to send a cargo plane (courtesy of its sponsor, the US Army) to its base in Concord, North Carolina to collect a third car. Sadly for Skinner, he will now have to start from the back of the grid, following NASCAR regulations for changing cars after qualifying.

"This is just my luck," he said. "We're running out of cars."

Rookie Greg Biffle sat on top of the timesheets for much of the session before he was deposed by Skinner, but his lap of 21.489s (125.646mph) was enough to ensure he will start second, ahead of veteran Roush Racing team-mate Mark Martin. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five.

Reigning champion Tony Stewart was fastest in practice, but dropped to 14th in qualifying, just behind Dale Earnhardt Jr, who current sits second in the points standings. Championship leader Matt Kenseth will start from 18th position.

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