LONG POND, Pa. -- As expected, Larry McReynolds gave up on his two-year quest to become a car owner on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Friday, announcing he has signed a new three-year contract with Richard Childress Racing and driver Mike Skinner.
McReynolds tried to secure sponsorship to start a race team in 2000, but nothing materialized by the July 11 deadline he imposed.
Now he will return to the same job he's held for more than a year.
"When you got other personal stuff going on, it effects you," Skinner said. "Absolutely, I'm glad he's going to be back. Larry always gave us his attention, but it's nice to know we're going to get all of his attention for the next three years."
Two hours after making the announcement, Skinner won the pole for Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 with a lap of 170.451 mph at the Pocono Raceway.
"The bad news is, and I'm hesitant to call it bad news because it's not bad news, (but) it's a situation where I worked by guts out for 10 or 11 months. We feel we dotted every "I" and crossed every "T." I'm not bashful to say that on June 25, I thought we had the Tide deal done, signed, sealed and delivered. Then we found out on June 30 they were hesitant to go with a new team."
Tide, however, opted to spend its money next year with Cal Wells, a car owner on the CART circuit who plans to develop a Winston Cup team from scratch.
Skinner said he's happy McReynolds will remain in his pits for the next three years.
"I feel like the big winner in this deal," he said. "I think the whole race team has been a little overwhelmed because we weren't certain what the future was or who was going to be flipping the switch."
Tankers full of water line both sides of the entrance to the Pocono Raceway as race officials prepare for a hot, dry weekend.
Conditions are so bad in Eastern Pennsylvania, the state has adopted water restrictions for the entire area. Since many of the 120,000 fans expected for Sunday's race will be camping in and around the raceway, officials want to make sure there's plenty of water on hand to keep any accidents from turning into a wildfire. Temperature along pit road during Friday's qualifying session was 115 degrees.
WHO THREW OUT THE ANCHOR?:
Rich Bickle had the seventh-fastest car during both practice sessions early Friday, but his Pontiac was clocked at only 169.059 mph during time trials.
"My gosh, how do we go from being one of the fastest cars in practice and then we're dead," Bickle said after running 13th in qualifying. "It actually was a good lap. The car was loose during practice, and we tightened it up before qualifying. Actually, we tightened it up too much."
A loose condition is when the rear wheels lose grip in the turns, while a tight condition is when the front wheels won't turn in the corners.
HOME AT LAST:
Sunday's race is a homecoming for driver Jimmy Spencer.
Before he settled into auto racing, Spencer was an all-state linebacker at Berwick (Pa.) High. His family still owns a junkyard in Berwick, and each year several drivers visit the family and participate in the Junkyard 500.
That's when they take cars from the salvage yard and run a demolition derby in the family's back yard.
One year, Dale Earnhardt crashed two junked cars before settling on a new car in the driveway that belonged to Spencer's mother.
Jeff Gordon, who's finished first or second in seven of the past eight races at Pocono, qualified seventh for Sunday's race. He's the only driver to be a first-round qualifier in every race this year. ... Blaise Alexander will start on the pole for today's Pepsi 200 for ARCA Series cars. ... Twenty-five of the last 43 winners at Pocono have started in the first two rows on the grid.
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