Mike Skinner Posts First Top-Five Finish of 2009 at Atlanta HAMPTON, Ga. (March 8, 2009) -- Coming into Atlanta Motor Speedway for the third race of the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season (NCWTS), Mike Skinner was returning to...
Mike Skinner Posts First Top-Five Finish of 2009 at Atlanta
HAMPTON, Ga. (March 8, 2009) -- Coming into Atlanta Motor Speedway for the third race of the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season (NCWTS), Mike Skinner was returning to one of the most successful tracks of his career and looking to bring his Atlanta-based sponsor, Exide Batteries, to their hometown Victory Lane. Despite falling short of this goal and fighting the handling of the No. 5 Toyota Tundra throughout the 130-lap event, Skinner and his Randy Moss Motorsports team never gave up and fought their way to a fourth-place finish during Saturday afternoon's American Commercial Lines 200.
Skinner, who has recorded three NCWTS poles at the 1.54-mile quad-oval, qualified in the eighth position and ran solidly in the top-10 during the first long green-flag run of the afternoon. The first caution came out on lap 29, as the 1995 Truck Series Champion was running in ninth-place. Skinner radioed to crew chief Eric Phillips that the No. 5 Exide Tundra did not have any grip and was loose. On lap 30, Skinner came to pit road for four fresh tires and then returned to the attention of his crew for fuel and adjustments the following lap. The Daytona Beach, Fla. resident restarted the race from the seventh position on lap 34.
As the field continued under green, Skinner was not pleased with the condition of his Exide Toyota, reporting to his team that he was "spinning out when he was on the gas." The veteran was running in the 12th position when the second caution flag waved on lap 66. Phillips brought Skinner down pit road on lap 68 for four fresh tires and to put a rubber in the left rear. Skinner returned to pit road the next lap for Sunoco fuel and a wedge adjustment. The Randy Moss Motorsports crew picked up spots on pit road, allowing Skinner to restart on in the ninth position.
Only a few laps after the field returned to green, the third caution came out and Skinner told his team that the adjustments made his truck worse and it would start out loose and get looser and looser as the run continued. Once again, Skinner felt that the Exide Tundra didn't have any grip in the front or the rear. Taking advantage of the caution, Skinner came down pit road to top off with fuel and to make a track bar adjustment. Restarting on lap 79 from the 12th position, Skinner worked his way back into the top-10 by lap 81 and never looked back. The fourth caution for debris came out on lap 113, as the No. 5 Exide Batteries Toyota was running in the ninth position. Skinner told Phillips that the truck was handling the "best it had all day." As the field differed in pit strategy, Skinner came down pit road only once for four sticker tires and restarted from the fifth position.
The final caution waved on lap 120 as Skinner had moved up to fourth-place. When the race restarted with eight laps to go, the former NCWTS Champion wheeled his Toyota around the track and came home in the fourth position. This solid run was the first top-five finish for Skinner and the No. 5 Exide Toyota Tundra team of the 2009 season.
"We had about a ninth-place truck and we really missed it on the set-up," said Skinner. "We knew we had done that earlier. We rode behind Terry (Cook) forever and ever and he was just a little bit better than we were, especially on long runs. We just thought that if we could finish in the top-10 it would be a good day. We had some fuel left so we got a good restart, but our Exide Tundra just wasn't very good today. We feel like we stole one getting into the top-five."
With the fourth-place finish, Skinner moved up four positions to third-place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship point standings, 94 points out of second-place and 119 points behind leader and race winner Kyle Busch.
After a two-week break, Mike Skinner and the No. 5 Exide Batteries Toyota Tundra team will return to racing action at Martinsville Speedway for the running of the Kroger 250 on Saturday, March 28, 2009. Skinner has won three races at the "paper-clip", including both NCWTS races in 2007.