Atlanta: Red Bull Racing Team preview

THE SKINNY ON SKINNER Craftsman Truck regular Mike Skinner will temporarily replace AJ Allmendinger in Red Bull Racing Team's No. 84 beginning this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. His history with the team dates back to 2006 when he served as...

THE SKINNY ON SKINNER

Craftsman Truck regular Mike Skinner will temporarily replace AJ Allmendinger in Red Bull Racing Team's No. 84 beginning this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. His history with the team dates back to 2006 when he served as a test driver, and Skinner helped mentor Allmendinger during the rookie's truck stint with Bill Davis Racing. But there's more, much more, to Mike. He was the inaugural Craftsman Truck champion in 1995 and won the series' first race.

He is not the Mike Skinner from Birmingham, England - the popular rapper they call "The Streets" who appears all over a Google search. He's known for his gunslinging celebration in victory lane. He has made 246 starts in Sprint Cup, with a best finish of second at Talladega on April 16, 2000. He owns 10 top fives and 39 top 10s. His wife, Angie, a familiar face at the track, has authored "Turning Points: Defining Moments in the Lives of NASCAR Superstars" and the 94-recipe "Race Day Grub." He has started every truck race since Toyota joined the series in 2004 (102).

He runs especially well in Japan, winning NASCAR races at Suzuka (1997) and Motegi (1998). He's a shark with a pool cue. His lone Nationwide Series victory, which came at Atlanta in 1999, was mired in controversy. Skinner was disqualified for a post-race inspection violation, and the win was given to Dave Blaney. But within a few days, NASCAR reversed its decision and re-awarded the victory to Skinner.

LEAVING LAS VEGAS

Most of Brian Vickers' Sunday afternoon was spent trying to get his lap back at Las Vegas, and it led to a ho-hum 24th-place finish. With that 24th-place finish, however, came 91 valuable points that pushed Vickers' three-race total to 348. Vickers is tied for 12th in the driver standings. The No. 83 he drives sits in the same position in its respective category - the car owner standings. Now the Sprint Cup Series heads to Atlanta, where Vickers has three top-10 finishes in nine starts. Dig deeper into NASCAR's loop data statistics, and it's revealed that Vickers is a passing machine at the 1.54-mile track. In the past six Atlanta races, Vickers tops the charts in green-flag passes with 455. Driver No. 88 is a distant second with 410. And no driver has made more passes on the frontstretch, backstretch and turns two and four than Vickers.

STRAP IN, SCOTT

If Scott Speed thinks Daytona and Talladega are flat-out, just wait until he straps into a truck and takes on Atlanta. The ARCA rookie by day will make his Craftsman Truck Series debut under the lights Friday night, driving the Red Bull-sponsored No. 46 fielded by Morgan-Dollar Motorsports. Red Bull Racing Team's No. 84 over-the-wall crew will service Speed's truck in the American Commercial Lines 200. Normally, Speed drives the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota for Eddie Sharp Racing in ARCA - a series that races on everything from Illinois dirt to Alabama asphalt. But ARCA doesn't race at Atlanta, arguably the fastest track in NASCAR.

"I've never tested or raced at Atlanta and I've never even been behind the wheel of a NASCAR truck before, but I'm super excited to try it out," Speed said. "The great thing about this truck race for me is that there's zero pressure for me to go out there and bring home some amazing finish. The objectives are for me to learn how the truck handles and to get more racing experience. I know what I'm up against. I have about two hours of practice, then I have to be ready to race. I love throwing myself off the deep end every once in awhile." Speed will go from truck racing at Atlanta to creeping along, bumping and grinding at Martinsville (March 29). He'll then hook up with ARCA April 13 at the short track in Salem, Ind.

-credit: rbr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Skinner , Scott Speed , Brian Vickers , Dave Blaney
Teams Red Bull Racing , Bill Davis Racing