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Owner McReynolds? It wasn't meant to be

Larry McReynolds wanted to own a race team. Thought he had a deal done, too.

No such luck.

The crew chief for driver Mike Skinner's Richard Childress-owned Chevrolet couldn't quite pull things together in time to form a Winston Cup team for the 2000 season, so instead he signed a three-year deal to stay with Childress and Skinner's No. 31 car.

Which is why McReynolds called it a good-news, bad-news day when he held a news conference to reveal what he was going to do, and what he was not.

"The bad news . . . it's a situation in which myself and John Dangler, with the help of a lot of people, worked our guts out the last 10 or 11 months," he said. "We worked hard at it. We did everything we knew to do."

McReynolds thought he had a deal for Tide to sponsor his proposed team, but the company instead moved its longtime sponsorship of Ricky Rudd's No. 10 car to a team being formed by neophyte Winston Cup owner Cal Wells III.

"We felt like we had every "I' dotted and every "T' crossed," McReynolds said. "I'm not bashful about saying on June 25 I thought we had the Tide deal done, signed, sealed and delivered."

Five days later: "Unfortunately, that deal is dead."

The good news is McReynolds can continue working for Childress, who hired him to be Dale Earnhardt's crew chief 2{ years ago.

"He's become a great friend," McReynolds said of his boss.

Childress is pleased McReynolds will stay: "I've seen so much positive with Larry McReynolds."

Skinner agreed.

"Basically," he said, "I feel like the winner in this deal."

Skinner credits McReynolds with working to keep the team's attention on its task at hand even as the crew chief worked on his failed deal.

"We had four or five races there at the beginning of the year that were pretty awesome . . . (then) I don't know what happened," he said.

No. 31 started hot, then cooled considerably.

"I think the whole race team (was) a little overwhelmed and not certain of their future _ and myself, not being sure who I was going to be working with, as much as all of us," Skinner said. "This guy right here (McReynolds) did the best job of anybody at flipping that switch. He did not take any of his focus away from working with that 31 team."

Shortly after McReynolds revealed his plans, Skinner started the Pennsylvania 500 from the pole and finished 10th. It was the first of many good things he hopes will follow.

"Everybody knows what their future is now," said Skinner, also under contract with Childress for three more years. "Everybody knows what we're going to do. I don't expect this thing to turn around overnight, but I think . . . we're coming back."

McReynolds is. That's for certain.

BARRETT BACK, TOO: After placing veteran owner Junie Donlavey's Ford in the field at Pocono, marking just the second time this season Donlavey's car has qualified for a Cup race on speed, rookie Stanton Barrett earned the right to be back behind the wheel at the Brickyard 400.

"We're taking things on a race-by-race basis and, hopefully, that will be a lot of races," said Barrett, who hopes to secure regular sponsorship for the car.

IT'S OVER: Or is it? Only time will tell if wounds really have healed between Winston Cup points leader Dale Jarrett and defending champ Jeff Gordon, who publicly was chastised by Jarrett for his driving in last month's Jiffy Lube 300 at New Hampshire.

"Everything is fine between Jeff and myself," Jarrett said this week. "It was basically okay after we left Loudon. It was just a moment that two athletes were caught up in and had different viewpoints of exactly what went on and what should have taken place."