McReynolds seeks a double of his own By Dave Rodman DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 16, 1998) Richard Childress Racing crew chief Larry McReynolds has the opportunity Saturday night in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400 to achieve a rare ...
McReynolds seeks a double of his own By Dave Rodman
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 16, 1998) Richard Childress Racing crew chief Larry McReynolds has the opportunity Saturday night in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400 to achieve a rare double -- in fact so rare it could well make Daytona International Speedway history. McReynolds, who won his second Daytona 500 in February when Childress' "lead" driver, GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet pilot Dale Earnhardt, won the "Great American Race," switched teams in mid-season to take the reins of sophomore driver Mike Skinner's Lowe's Chevrolet buggy.
The switch, which saw Kevin Hamlin head over to orchestrate Earnhardt's pit strategy, has paid off for both teams in terms of qualifying and race performances, but it has particularly benefited Skinner. Since August, he has qualified in the first round in 10 out of 12 races, and in the other two he started 26th. His finishes have not quite matched his qualifying performance, but after he scored career-best finishes in a stretch of three-out-of-four races in July, Skinner has been steady, if not spectacular, with six top-10 finishes in his last 13 events, and only two finishes of 30th or worse. "I think this team was pretty awesome in the Daytona 500," Skinner recalled. "I don't know that the team is a lot better than it was. I think this team has been good all along. I think the chemistry with Larry coming over here has been awesome. I think it's really brought something although Kevin and I got along great, I think the communication is a little better with Larry." Skinner has battled injuries for much of the early part of the year and he is almost all the way back to 100 percent. He thinks that has a bearing on his strong late-summer run. "I never realized how hurt I was," Skinner said of successive wrecks in the spring. "I really got a wake-up call there. I spent the rest of the summer trying to be physically able to drive this race car and give this race team the recognition it deserved the whole time. My hat's off to the guys for hanging in there and waiting for Mike Skinner to come back. There was questions asked to Richard Childress when he announced that he was going to keep me for next year. They wanted to know which Mike Skinner were they going to have. "When I get to the race track, I give this team every bit of attention and focus I can. Part of the things I do is I try to get the right rest and eat right. When we've got 50 laps to go, I'm not a noodle sitting behind the wheel. I can still think and still make a move on a guy. I can still race." What has Skinner and McReynolds particularly upbeat about the inaugural nighttime running of the Pepsi 400 is the drivers run to seventh in last weekend's Winston 500, as well as his ninth-place qualifying effort for the Pepsi 400, when he displayed just the attributes he described. "I don't know if it's any different if you come here with Dale Earnhardt or Mike Skinner or a guy out of the truck series who's never been here," McReynolds said philosophically. "When you get into the race, experience certainly plays a big role in it, but we're approaching this race no differently than we approached the race in February with Dale. "We know we need to work on getting the car driving good. You need to be able to keep up. You can't be slow and drive good. We know the car that wins the race Saturday night will belong to the driver who can stay on the mat from pit stop to pit stop. It always has and always will be that way at Daytona Beach. There will be a lot of unknown with the night racing, but you've got to believe it'll be similar to February conditions." And since McReynolds knows how to win under those conditions, which he did with Davey Allison in 1992 and Earnhardt earlier this year, he thinks Skinner may have what it takes. "Like I've said all along since Richard Childress made this swap, it's not important that Larry McReynolds is linked, tied, uniformed with a marquee driver. I know and I feel if I do my job and this team does their job, whoever I'm working with will win races and he'll be a marquee driver. The lights will come on around him. It was satisfying to win the Daytona 500 with Dale, his first Daytona 500, but it would really be gratifying to win a Daytona race with Mike Skinner to give him his first win, and we can do it. "There's no doubt in my mind. The confidence level I've got from last week at Talladega, while this is not Talladega, we do bring that confidence and that knowledge from five days ago to Daytona with us. We've got the same car, the same type of engine for the race Saturday. I'm sure the 88 car has got the same package, too, so we're not in a boat by ourselves." "The sky's the limit for this team," Skinner said. "One of my goals in racing is to win the Winston Cup championship. In order to do that, you've got to be consistent in the top-five and top-10. If you do that, you'll win some races." And the pair might start out Saturday night.
Source: NASCAR Online