Darlington II: Mike Skinner race report

Skinner hits wall; fights back to finish 29th. DARLINGTON, S.C. (Aug. 31, 2003) - Mike Skinner wrestled with major handling problems early in the race that eventually caused him to scrape the wall, forcing a 30-minute repair to the U.S. Army ...

Skinner hits wall; fights back to finish 29th.

DARLINGTON, S.C. (Aug. 31, 2003) - Mike Skinner wrestled with major handling problems early in the race that eventually caused him to scrape the wall, forcing a 30-minute repair to the U.S. Army Pontiac.

Though the momentum was stymied due to the time spent in the garage, Skinner and the U.S. Army team fought back to finish 29th in Sunday's Mountain Dew Southern 500 here at Darlington Raceway.

Skinner, who started the race from the 16th position, was the recipient of the infamous "Darlington Stripe" when he brushed the wall in Turn 3 on lap 96 of the 367-lap event. The contact resulted in Skinner driving the car to the garage with major damage to the entire right side.

"It was driver error," said a candid Skinner. "When the car is tight and won't turn, a veteran driver is supposed to slow down in the corners. I guess I was trying too hard to prove myself to the team that I'm the right guy to sit in for Jerry (Nadeau) until he comes back. You can't do that if you're not giving 100 percent. Unfortunately, sometimes when you give it your all it can come back and bite you."

Crew chief Ryan Pemberton had a different version of the incident.

"The car was not good in the beginning," said Pemberton. "We kept on making adjustments, but nothing seemed to work. Mike had his hands full and gave it everything he had. But when the car is handling poorly, especially at this track, there's a good chance you're going to stuff into the wall. There were other veteran drivers who experienced the same outcome today."

Pemberton and the Army of One team worked through the adversity and came together in the end as the 01 Pontiac was clicking off impressive lap times.

"I really feel like we all redeemed ourselves in the end," said Skinner, who drove his fourth race for the U.S. Army team. "We did some experimenting and I think we hit on something that will help us at future races. What I really like about this team is that you never see any long faces when things aren't going well, whether it's in practice or in the race. The focus is always to make it better."

And making it better will be the main objective for Skinner and the U.S. Army team at the next NASCAR Winston Cup stop -- Saturday night in Richmond, Va.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Skinner