Skinner getting better each week By Shawn A. Akers HAMPTON, Ga. (March 12, 1999) Even in the lean times over the past couple of year, team owner Richard Childress never gave up on Mike Skinner. Childress' faith in his driver is now beginning to...
Skinner getting better each week By Shawn A. Akers
HAMPTON, Ga. (March 12, 1999) Even in the lean times over the past couple of year, team owner Richard Childress never gave up on Mike Skinner. Childress' faith in his driver is now beginning to pay huge dividends.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader after three races, Skinner, the driver of Childress' No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet, barely missed winning the Bud Pole on Friday for Sunday's Cracker Barrel 500. Skinner qualified second to Bud Pole winner Bobby Labonte (194.957 mph) with a fast lap of 194.226 mph.
The 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, Skinner struggled last season to a 21st-place finish in the point standings after getting hurt earlier in the year. He's busted out early in the 1999 campaign, recording three top-10 and two top-five finishes in the first three races.
Skinner leads Rusty Wallace by 51 points in the point standings heading into Sunday's Cracker Barrel 500.
"Richard has been awfully good to me," Skinner said. "He's kept me in some times in my career when the shoe's been on the other foot. I don't know if I would have kept him, but he's just super to me.
"I owe him a lot. Of course, I'd love to drive for Larry McReynolds, but my loyalties now are with RCR. I remember when we started this team how much trouble we had getting a crew."
McReynolds, the crew chief of the No. 31 Chevrolet, has made it known that he has intentions of starting his own NASCAR Winston Cup Series team in the year 2000. Skinner's name has been mentioned by many as a possible driver, but the team is still in its planning stages.
In the present, however, Skinner said he's extremely happy with how the team has progressed under McReynolds' tutelage.
"It's awesome (having McReynolds for a crew chief)," Skinner said. "He makes me look good, and hopefully I make him look good. It's a good relationship and we're good friends off the race track. We threaten to burn each other's house about every week, and then we come down here and we're best buddies.
"It's a great relationship with Larry. It's a double-edged sword because I'm really pulling for Larry to get his own deal going and have his own race team and be a car owner, which would fulfill one of his dreams. Then again, I'm pulling against it because I don't want him to leave. We're real close to putting a deal together with Richard Childress for the next three years, and I'd sure like to see Larry stay."
Skinner has put together some consistent runs in the first three races of the season. His goal, and the team's goal, however, still remains to get to Victory Lane, which Skinner has never done in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
He hopes that Atlanta is a charm.
"We qualified good here two or three times and the last race here last year we ran pretty good," Skinner said. "I think we finished in the top-10 here and had a pretty awesome night here. We're just getting that valuable seat time and valuable chassis time and learning how to give Larry the right information on what the race car is doing in order to put a good race car under me.
"Atlanta is not a bad race track for me. It's a good race track for us."
Source: NASCAR Online