Daytona Test: Morgan-McClure, Skinner report

Morgan-McClure completes Daytona test session Morgan-McClure Motorsports completed their first official test of the 2002 season with Mike Skinner piloting the No. 4 KODAK MAX Film Monte Carlo at Daytona. Skinner, returning after sitting on the...

Morgan-McClure completes Daytona test session

Morgan-McClure Motorsports completed their first official test of the 2002 season with Mike Skinner piloting the No. 4 KODAK MAX Film Monte Carlo at Daytona. Skinner, returning after sitting on the sidelines for the last nine races of the 2001 season due to knee and ankle surgery, showed he is poised and ready to return. The team, headed by 2001 Daytona 500 winning crew chief, Scott Eggleston, turned in a fast lap of 49.187 (182.975 m.p.h.). Ninth overall in the cumulative times of the drivers participating in the three day test.

Team Daytona Speedway Quick Facts:

Morgan-McClure Motorsports
3 time Daytona 500 winners (1991-Ernie Irvan, 1994 & 1995-Sterling Marlin)
2 time Pepsi 400 winners (1992-Ernie Irvan, 1996-Sterling Marlin)
Gatorade 125 winners (1995-Sterling Marlin)

Mike Skinner
Bud Pole winner--Daytona 500 and Pepsi 400--1997
Bud Shootout Qualifier winner--1999
Gatorade 125 winner--2001
Best Daytona 500 finish--4th--1999

Scott Eggleston
2001 Daytona 500 winning crew chief

Mike Skinner, driver of the No. 4 KODAK MAX Film Monte Carlo, talks about progressing from knee surgery, his new team, safety issues and his first official test with Morgan-McClure:

"I think the relationship with Morgan-McClure is going to be a good mix. We have both been plagued with bad luck and bad circumstances. We need each other.

"When you have an injury as the result of an accident, you sometimes sit back and ask if this is really what you want to do. After having my ankle operated on earlier, I was assured that this is what I want to do. I want to race. Sitting back is not for me. I want to make a difference wherever I go. I feel confident I can make a difference with this race team. I was in the shadows for a long time over at RCR (Richard Childress Racing). A lot of things happened there and we were still in the shadows. Being the main focus of a race team will help me mentally. This extra time off has helped me physically.

"Larry, Scott and the guys are all working together. Everyone at Morgan-McClure wants to win. Everyone there has a great attitude. If we keep pulling the rope in the same direction, everything will come together.

"The new cars at the shop are beautiful. This is a super race team with great leadership. Time will have to take its course. We cannot rebuild myself or this race team overnight. I told Larry that I am going to offer my input. In the past, I was a little more quiet than I should have been. I am focused and chomping at the bits to go.

"As for my knee, it has been tough.. I work out in physical therapy 3 or 4 times a week. I had a great doctor, Dr. Hankins, who did an awesome job on my knee and ankle. This type of knee reconstruction requires four to six months minimum to be back ninety percent. It has only been three months, so it will take a little more time.

"The main thing right now is I think it is bulletproof. I was over at the house (Skinner lives a few miles from Daytona International Speedway in Spruce Creek) the other day doing plumbing and some construction work. Doing things people would not expect a racecar driver to do. I love to play golf. I like to stay very active. It swells up a little bit. I've just got to find those warning signs it gives me. I had it operated on-scoped-in 1998 and had a lot more trouble with it then than I've had now. This time around, the doctors have taught me more about upper body and neck and not just about the knee.

I do have a ligament in the knee from a cadaver. I told them to find a young guy about 23 years old, preferably a basketball player. All kidding aside, I was thankful. If you use your own ligament, the healing process takes a lot longer, because of a weak hamstring.

"Safety is a primary issue as we enter the 2002 season. We can turn it around and make it safer on the track for drivers. As the rules change for safety purposes, especially at the restrictor plate races, I hope it is still exciting for fans. They deserve to see side by side racing and not just a follow the leader type of race. Safety will be an ongoing process. All of it cannot be changed overnight. I would like to see the rules changed where the good racecars in a draft can break away again. They can do that in the Busch Series.

"I applaud the HANS Device. It saved my life at Chicagoland. As for wearing it compared to the Hutcheons Device, I think it is just a matter of preference. Personally, I feel more comfortable in the HANS Device. It seems safer to me.

"Changes are being made to the cockpit, too. More padding is added at the steering column and the pedals have been moved to protect legs. Nothing can guarantee against injury when we hit the wall at 190 m.p.h., but certainly the improvements that are being made can help soften the blow. I think the guy who comes up with the solution to that will go down in history."

"At the completion of our first "official" test together, I am pleased. Overall, communication went well and we had a successful test. Larry and Scott and all of the guys worked hard to try to put heads together and get this car really fast. When we pulled out on the track for the first time on Monday in the Kodak entry, I really did not know what to expect.

"We feel like we are in the competitive range. I think we will be okay. The team is looking forward to coming back to Daytona in February and getting this season started."

-mmm-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ernie Irvan , Mike Skinner , Sterling Marlin
Teams Richard Childress Racing