MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 19, 2003) -- There was no quit in Mike Skinner Sunday as the veteran driver completed his schedule as the U.S. Army/MB2 substitute driver for the injured Jerry Nadeau.
With his savvy driving that combined both tenacity and patience, Skinner managed to overcome an ill-handling, battled-scarred racecar to post a 21st-place finish in a caution-filled Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway.J
"We got ourselves in a hole early, but nobody gave up," said Skinner. "There were a lot of wrecks out there today and our car got its share of bruises. But we managed to keep all of the fenders on the Army Pontiac and finish the race.J
"The result was not what I had hoped for -- I really wanted to go out and give this team a much-deserved top-five finish or better."
Skinner started the race on the grueling .526-mile oval from the 11th position. But as the race wore on, he wrestled a loose-handling car that put him as far back as 35th. However, the problems and track position didn't faze Skinner -- he drove patiently, kept his cool and fought his way back.
"That's all you can do -- if you can't win, you're supposed to race smart," said Skinner. "I was real aggressive when I had to be and real conservative at other times.
"I even feel we could have gained more positions at the end, but there was some confusion with NASCAR officials about coming into the pits during the final caution when we got a lap back. We really could have used some fresh tires at that point of the race."
Skinner, who drove 11 races for theU.S. Army team since early August, was greeted with kudos from thecrew when he exited the 01Pontiac.
"I am really going to miss these guys -- they were like family to Angela and me," said Skinner, who announced that he will return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, beginning in 2004.
"This was a great ride and a wonderful association. I just want to say thank you to MB2, the U.S. Army, USG Sheetrock Brand and everyone who supported me during this period. It was awesome."
Crew chief Ryan Pemberton was equally praiseworthy of Skinner.
"He gave us one heck of an effort today," said Pemberton. "He drove his heart out. But you wouldn't expect anything less of Mike Skinner. He has always performed this way and he will continue to do so. That's his style and we sincerely thank him for his all-out efforts and wish him nothing but the best."