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Allison finds his confidence again

Confusion turned into confidence for Davey Allison and the rest of the Robert Yates team during final preparations for today's Mello Yello 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

That could be bad news for series point leader Bill Elliott and other Winston Cup drivers.

Allison, with two poles and three wins on the 1.5-mile Charlotte oval, has not raced well recently. This week he was way off his usual Charlotte form. He failed to make the top 20 in the first round of qualifying and will start 22nd starting spot in the 40-car lineup.

A confused Larry McReynolds, Allison's crew chief, said Friday, "Normally, we come to Charlotte and Davey Allison can drive this place blindfolded and qualify in the top five, certainly the top 10. We just can't figure out what we're doing differently, can't put our finger on the missing link."

The results of a 90-minute practice session Saturday morning changed all that.

"We think we're back to where we need to be," McReynolds said happily.

Allison, who has seen his share of grief this season, with several bad accidents and the death of his younger brother in a racing incident, was more upbeat as well.

"We went over everything, made a few changes, got back to communicating the way we used to," he said. "I feel like we're competitive now."

Allison's recent struggles really haven't hurt him much in the championship battle, because Elliott also has been slumping.

With four races to go, Allison trails Elliott by just 67 points and has chopped 87 points off the lead in the last two races despite finishing 16th and 11th.

The reason is that Elliott has been even worse. He has ended 30th and 26th in those two races.

Alan Kulwicki, who set a qualifying record, will start from the pole. Geoff Bodine, the defending race champion, will be going for his third straight victory after going nearly a year without a win.

Around NASCAR

Junior Johnson team: NASCAR team owner Junior Johnson announced Saturday that Hut Stricklin will drive for him in 1993 in a car sponsored by fast food giant McDonald's.

Johnson, whose lead driver is Bill Elliott, will replace second driver Sterling Marlin with Stricklin at the end of this season. Marlin will drive next year for the Stavola Brothers.

All Pro 300: A late caution flag nearly cost Jeff Gordon a victory Saturday in the All Pro Auto Parts 300 Busch Grand National race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Gordon, racing runner-up Michael Waltrip back to the finish line, barely avoided the wrecked car of Robert Pressley just five laps from the end of the 200-lap race. It was Gordon's third win of the season.

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