Richmond II: Mike Skinner press conference

MIKE SKINNER, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: Won the pole. Friday's pole-winning effort for Mike Skinner was the sixth of his career and second at Richmond International Speedway. It is also his best start of the season (his previous best...

MIKE SKINNER, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: Won the pole.

Friday's pole-winning effort for Mike Skinner was the sixth of his career and second at Richmond International Speedway. It is also his best start of the season (his previous best was third at Charlotte in May). Skinner is also the first driver to repeat as a pole winner here since the fall of 1999.

IT DIDN'T START OFF VERY WELL, BUT THE DAY SURE CAME OUT GOOD IN THE END.

"It started out kind of rough. We hadn't made a full lap on the track before we tore our U.S. Army Pontiac all to pieces. I still don't know what happened. We really didn't do anything different [on the backup], the setups are very similar. We got the backup car going and the thing ran second in practice. The Hendrick guys put a different engine in it. I almost said, 'leave that engine in it,' but thery were a little bit afraid to race with that engine. I can't say enough about the engine. It ran awesome. Ryan [Pemberton] and the guys, we decided to leave it alone. We saw a lot of cars getting loose in qualifying and our car had been a little tight in practice. We thought maybe it would come to us, and darned if it didn't."

IT'S BEEN A TOUGH SEASON FOR YOU OVERALL. IS THIS POLE A REDEMTPION OF SORTS FOR YOU?

"This unemployment stuff is something else. This is two poles for this car this year and both guys driving it were unemployed. Imagine that. It's working out pretty good for us so far. We have a lot of positive things going on for us next year and we should know something in a couple of weeks. I just can't thank Jay Frye and all the guys who own this race team at MB2 for giving me this opportunity. I have to thank Jerry Nadeau for giving me an opportunity. I think he was my biggest cheerleader when they decided to make a driver change. He endorsed me, he said, 'put Mike Skinner in the car.' He's called me every week and supported me. We've run better than our finishes. We really struggled in practices and especially in Happy Hour. This week, hopefully we'll get our car turned around enough to have some Happy Hour practice.

"We're going to be a little more aggressive with our setup and see if that helps a little bit. Ryan and I are still learning each other, we've got a long way to go but we're getting a little better every week. Last week, we crashed at Darlington and after the car was crashed, we went back out and made some adjustments and ran times that stayed in the top 10 the rest of the day. This is a good race team."

YOU LIKE THIS TRACK.

"We did win here in the Truck Series. Hopefully, we can get a top-10 finish here. That's what our goal is, to try and get a decent finish. This is a good race team, they've had good pit stops. Pontiac has an awesome body on it, and this was definitely a little bit of "fuel for the soul" for me today. I just can't thank Pontiac and everybody enough for giving me the opportunity."

TALK ABOUT YOUR ROLE IN REPRESENTING THE ARMY AND SOLDIERS ABROAD.

"If we get one smile and we help anybody that's over there putting us in a position that we can do what we love to do for a living...and we're all free, doing what we love to do and getting paid for doing things that we love because other people are over there putting their lives on the line for us...if this race team and this pole cracks a smile in the Army, it was well worth it."

WHAT IS THE SITUATION WITH YOU AND THIS TEAM FOR THE FUTURE?

"I think first and foremost, everybody in this team, myself included, is hoping for a full recovery for Jerry Nadeau. If that happens, that's great. I know they're going to go and talk to some doctors and see how he's progressing. I think Jerry will be back and be fine. If that's the case, I'm going to move on and do something else. It's getting to the time of year where we have to start making some decisions.

"We're looking at a couple of opportunities in the Winston Cup series, but we're really looking hard at the Truck Series again. There are a few opportunities coming up that we might get involved with. We haven't committed to anybody totally on anything right now. We're just kind of waiting to see where the chips fall. Days like today don't hurt those credentials."

ARE YOU AND BORIS SAID GOING TO BE TEAMMATES IN THE BUD SHOOTOUT?

"Man, that's going to be interesting. We're going to run Boris in the ARCA race at Talladega so he's qualified to run Daytona. Boris is a good driver, not only a good road racer, but a good race driver. I don't know. I guess we'll have to fight over who gets the 01 car. Jerry will probably be in the 01, so maybe we'll be in the 02 and the 03. I don't know."

DOES TERRY LABONTE'S VICTORY AT DARLINGTON LAST WEEK GIVE HOPE TO SOME OTHER TEAMS THAT HAVEN'T WON IN A WHILE?

"It's one for the old guys. All we ever hear about are young guns, young guns. I think this sport is turning into a younger man's deal. In 10 or 12 years, the biggest percentage of guys in this sport will be under 35 years old. I was very happy for Terry Labonte. There were a bunch of young guys over there [at Darlington] getting oxygen and towels wrapped around them, and I jumped out and ran to the car, so I'm all right [laughter]."

WAS IT AN ADVANTAGE TO GO LATER TODAY?

"I think the first 10 is a disadvantage, and then toward the end, I thought it was a disadvantage to go late. A lot of good cars slowed down a lot. Rusty Wallace, when he ran his lap, I was like, 'oh, man,' because he was awful good in practice. Everyone was running a tenth to two tenths slower, and I felt like if we ran a tenth slower we'd still get a starting spot. We ran a little slower than what we had run in practice and that was the difference."

SINCE YOU CHANGED THE ENGINE IN YOUR BACKUP CAR, DOES THAT MEAN YOU HAVE TO GO TO THE REAR?

"I hope not. I think because the car was crashed, and you can't quote me on this because I'm not sure I know what I'm talking about, but I think because the car was crashed and we changed the engine before we qualified, we'll get to keep our spot. If we just don't practice, we've got it made [laughter]."

DOES THE SAFER BARRIER CHANGE YOUR LINE AROUND THE TRACK?

"I tried to test it out, but I missed it {laughter]. Hopefully, nobody tries it out this weekend. It hasn't changed the line around this track. I can't see it being anything but an improvement. Any time we bring these tracks more up to date, I think that's a plus. Now all we need is a trailer park for all the drivers' motor coaches and we've really got it made."

-gm racing-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Mike Skinner , Jerry Nadeau