Larry McClure, owner of Morgan-McClure Motorsports and newly-signed driver, Mike Skinner. Larry McClure: "Today, I want to announce that we have just - in the last minute - signed a contract with Mike Skinner to drive the Kodak Chevrolet Monte...
Larry McClure, owner of Morgan-McClure Motorsports and newly-signed driver, Mike Skinner.
Larry McClure: "Today, I want to announce that we have just - in the last minute - signed a contract with Mike Skinner to drive the Kodak Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the next three years."
Mike Skinner: "We're really excited. We've been working on this for a while and it's a great opportunity for Mike Skinner, that's for sure. It's a great opportunity to go with an owner like Larry who has had so much success in the past. The long-term relationship with a sponsor is really impressive to me. We're looking forward to building a good rapport with them and to have a lot of fun."
For Larry McClure: If you had not had the opportunity to sign Mike Skinner, would you have let Kevin Lepage go? "These are two different subjects. Mike was what we need for this race team. We need to get back to where we were. We've danced around and we've had two different drivers (Robby Gordon and Kevin Lepage) in the car this year and I think both of them have skill and are good racecar drivers. But to get someone like Mike Skinner, who is always a threat to win, who is a competitor, and who has a lot of desire, is exciting. He's the type of guy whose personality should mesh with my guys, and I think those things are really important.
"When I asked Kevin to drive the racecar, it wasn't a permanent position at that time. We just came up with an agreement to last as long as we wanted it to. And then we decided to look at someone else for the remainder of the season."
For Mike Skinner: How do you feel about being your own man in a race like the Daytona 500 instead of being in a 'team' situation like you have in the past? "In the Daytona 500 or any of the restrictor-plate races, you always want a buddy - somebody to work with you. But when it gets down to five or six laps, all the deals are gone. It doesn't matter if it's with your teammate or not. I always thought we might have had a small part of helping Dale (Earnhardt) win that one year. The next year, he pushed Jeff Gordon by me. So I learned an awful lot. When we thought it was our turn to win, we found out that teammates are only good until the last five or six laps. I really hate that the opportunity for Kevin Harvick and me to work together is gone, but it's really not gone. We can work together in the Daytona 500. Right now, I think I've got over 60 teammates here at Morgan-McClure right now.
"But, in addition to Daytona, we want to be a threat at Martinsville and Rockingham and everywhere else we go. A lot of this thing is just chemistry. You keep on looking for the right chemistry until you find it. Hopefully we've found it with Larry and everybody at Morgan-McClure Racing this time."
For Larry McClure How do you step-up your program now? "We're just looking at every avenue and every aspect of racing to see where we are. We think that we've got a really good race team. The last six years, we really haven't shown that. With Scot Eggleston's leadership and Mike Skinner driving the racecar, we should be a formidable to a lot of people out here. Our plans are to run up-front."
For Larry McClure: Why are you putting Bobby Hamilton Jr. in the car this coming weekend at Charlotte? "I like him. He's a tough racecar driver and he likes to go fast. His father (Bobby Hamilton) and I are still close. He drove for us last year and a couple of years prior to that and we're still good friends and have a good relationship. Bobby trusts his son with us. We're going to look at it real close. We've always been looking for a second team. He's been in Andy Petree's car and he'll get to be in our car and get a comparison. He'll be able to tell what kind of race team we have."
For Mike Skinner: When are you having surgery? "We're having it done first thing (tomorrow) morning. We postponed it one day so that Larry and I could get together and talk to all you folks."
For Mike Skinner: Do you think you'll be finished with rehab and be able to test by January? "We really do. I can't thank Richard Childress enough for giving me the opportunity to go get healthy. Richard and Larry are friends. They talked about me and Richard was one of the people that recommended me to Larry in the event that we didn't stay together. As a car owner, I think he wanted me to stay until Talladega, but as a friend, he wanted me to get out of the car and go get my knee operated on. We've got a great doctor and I feel like the way the procedure is going to go that there will be any problem to be ready for testing at Daytona. I'm a little more concerned about testing at some of the other places where we do a lot of left-foot braking. Hopefully we'll be able to do that toward the middle or end of January."
For Mike Skinner: How has being able to make such a smooth job switch from RCR to Morgan-McClure helped your confidence? "We had a lot of confidence to start with and this just reassures it. We chose to go in this direction because of the chemistry. I think that all the parts and pieces are all good. As far as landing on my feet, I was really never knocked off my feet. We've had a good relationship with Richard Childress Racing and we know our way to Victory Lane.
"Our objective here is to get competitive again and to get this race team competitive. They have a beautiful facility. There are - I don't know how many - racecars sitting there that can be ready in no time at all and there is no reason why a team with this much depth can't run well."
For Larry McClure: How are you going to handle Bobby Hamilton Jr. being in the Cup car at Martinsville and at the Busch race in Memphis "I'm not sure. We've contacted a couple of other drivers to see if they could race there and I don't think that Bobby Hamilton will be the one who runs for us at Martinsville. I can't comment any further on that just now."