Skinner, McReynolds can't wait for 1999 By Shawn A. Akers WELCOME, N.C. (Nov. 8, 1998) Sure, Mike Skinner, Larry McReynolds and the rest of the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet team obviously want to take some time off during the offseason. But...
Skinner, McReynolds can't wait for 1999 By Shawn A. Akers
WELCOME, N.C. (Nov. 8, 1998) Sure, Mike Skinner, Larry McReynolds and the rest of the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet team obviously want to take some time off during the offseason.
But there may not be any other team in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series that is as excited and raring to go for 1999 as the Lowe's bunch. And there's a lot of reasons for them to be optimistic about the upcoming season.
For one, Skinner has fashioned himself into a solid contender to win races at NASCAR's highest level. During the second half of the 1998 campaign, he posted five top-five finishes and was a threat to get to Victory Lane throughout that entire period.
And for another, McReynolds, the crew chief, and his "World Champion" pit crew have proven themselves time and time again in 1998 as one of the best crews in the series. Combined with Skinner's talent, McReynolds said he has no doubt the team has the capability of making it to victory lane more than once in next season.
"You know, we feel real good about 1999," said McReynolds, who will return for another season with the team next year. "The biggest thing we have to do is really work hard on our weaknesses and get some consistency built in our program for race day. We've had good qualifying efforts, but we've got to make sure we capitalize on those during the races.
"We were terrible this year at Darlington, Dover and Rockingham, and we've got to figure those things out. We can't sit still with the pit crew, either, because we know that you can't sit still with anything in this sport. You have to keep getting better and we're going to work on everything at a rapid pace this winter."
Talk around the NASCAR Winston Cup Series garage has it that Skinner will be a top contender next year, his third season at NASCAR's highest level. The media has also played up Skinner's progress over the course of the last half of the 1998 season and his prospects for a great 1999 campaign.
But McReynolds remains guarded about such matters. He remembers only a couple of years ago when he was hired as the crew chief of the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus team, when he combined with Dale Earnhardt.
"People can put us on a pedestal or shove us in the cellar, but it's all in how we feel," McReynolds said. "There were big moves and big expectations for the 3 car, and there was a lot of hype when I came over to RCR about the forthcoming season. Look what happened.
"Our goal, as it is with every team, is to win a championship next year. Are we going to win one? Well, I'm going to say that this team is not ready to win a championship yet. We're going to shoot for that, but we don't want to skip too many rungs on the ladder.
"First, we've got to be a contender to win races, and then we've got to get Mike Skinner on that stage in New York at the end of next year, with him finishing in the top-10. If we were going to make a list, like the 24 team (with Jeff Gordon), our next checkmark would be to be a top-10 contender. We've got a lot of work to do ahead of us. They (the 24 team) turn good days into great days, and they turn bad days into good days. We haven't done that, but that's what we're striving for."
Skinner will get even more track time next year in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, driving a limited schedule for Ridling Motorsports in the No. 19 Yellow Freight Chevrolet. That announcement was made last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Skinner said he believes that will help sharpen his driving skills, and will do nothing but aid the No. 31 Lowe's team in its efforts, as least as far as the driver is concerned.
"I think being in the Busch car is going to be a big help to me and a benefit to the Lowe's team as well as the Yellow Freight team," Skinner said. "If we can share some success with Yellow and help our Sunday program in the meantime, then it's going to be a good deal."
Source: NASCAR Online