Ray Fox Castles 1969
Neil Castles (right) drove two races for car owner Ray Fox during the 1969 NASCAR Cup Series season, the Rebel 400 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and the World 600 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. (NASCAR photo)

NASCAR Legends Who Never Won

Since ending his driving career, Means has worked as a crew chief and a team owner primarily in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he’s currently part of the Hamilton-Means Racing operation.

Very few drivers have been as beloved as the late J.D. McDuffie. McDuffie began his Cup Series career on July 7, 1963, at Rambi Raceway in Myrtle Beach, S.C., finishing 12th in the 18-car field.

Known for his very limited racing budgets, McDuffie raced until his death in a crash at Watkins Glen Int’l on Aug. 11, 1991. He made 653 starts over 27 seasons while fielding his own Chevrolets and Pontiacs.

Thomas Pope, a longtime motorsports writer and former sports editor for the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer, often covered McDuffie’s racing efforts. Even though listed as being from Sanford in all of NASCAR’s public relations information, McDuffie’s true residence was the small hamlet of Lemon Springs, N.C.

Earnhardt5 Dega 101500
Dale Earnhardt (3) goes high to pass teammate Mike Skinner (31) for the lead and eventual win in the Winston 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. (NASCAR photo)

“Race fans loved J.D. because he was a blue-collar race car driver,” Pope wrote in a 2022 Fayetteville Observer article. “They were amazed that he could race against the best in the world at NASCAR’s highest level on the budget he had using the parts and pieces that he had. Somehow, he made it work for a very long time. He didn’t have the high dollar sponsors all the other guys did but teams helped him with what he needed.”

McDuffie had a best finish of third in 1971 and won a pole at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway in 1978.

Mike Skinner, a native of Ontario, Calif., began his Cup Series career with Zanworth Racing on April 27, 1986, at Martinsville Speedway He finished 27th in the 31-car field. He entered Cup Series races with team owner Thee Dixon from 1990 through 1994. He then joined team owner Richard Childress in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series where he won 28 races and the inaugural series championship.

Skinner jumped to the Cup Series with Childress in 1997 and earned the pole for the Daytona 500. He made 286 Cup Series starts with 10 top-five finishes and 39 top-10 efforts.

“I enjoyed it when we ran well,” Skinner said. “Winning the pole for the Daytona 500 really meant a lot. Toward the end of my career, I wasn’t in the best equipment and I was part of the start-and-park brigade. I finally said, ‘That’s not why I wanted to be a race car driver.’

“We ran up front a lot throughout my entire Cup Series career. We would have tires blow and had parts break. We could just never get it to the finish line, whether it was my mistake or whether it was a mechanical failure.

“There were many examples of that,” Skinner continued. “We had everyone smoked at Pocono one year and got one of those late catch up the field cautions. At Martinsville, we dominated the race, and a piece of rubber got into the alternator, so we had to change a battery. At Atlanta, the car was so good, and we broke a rod bolt in the engine. That never happens.

“I had a nine-second lead at Watkins Glen and my crew chief messed up the fuel mileage and I fell back to third to save fuel,” Skinner continued. “Then, I found out I had two gallons of fuel left. That was my whole Cup career, just one thing after another. What was crazy was that in 1995 (when he won the Truck Series championship) we couldn’t do anything wrong. It’s just the way racing goes.”


This story appeared in the March 29, 2023 edition of the SPEED SPORT Insider.

Insider Banner Ad