Kansas: Mike Skinner qualifying press conference

MIKE SKINNER, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: Qualified 2nd; NOTE: Skinner's Pontiac is carrying desert camouflage colors this weekend in honor of all our troops stationed around the world. It is his best start since winning the pole at ...

MIKE SKINNER, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: Qualified 2nd;

NOTE: Skinner's Pontiac is carrying desert camouflage colors this weekend in honor of all our troops stationed around the world. It is his best start since winning the pole at Richmond last month.

YOU'VE BEEN PRETTY GOOD ALL DAY. TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN.

"The Army Pontiac has been respectable all day, and we did a mock-up run and scuffed both sets of tires in. One set was considerably better than the other. When we made our choice, I said, 'I think these tires are two or three tenths better than the other ones.' Fortunately, they were. When Dale went out, I heard them hootin' and hollerin' and I knew he got a little bit of a cloud. I knew it was a great lap and I thought he had the pole. When we went, he said, '.03, you're second.' I thought, 'what the heck is going on here?' I was confused. I guess both our laps were really close. It wasn't quite good enough to catch Jimmie, so congratulations to him. I'm just happy about our run today. I only have three races left with this team, and we got them a pole and an outside pole, and it would be nice to get them a good top-5, top-10 or maybe a win. That's kind of what our goal is."

WHY DO YOU THINK THE SPEEDS PICKED UP SO MUCH TODAY?

"The big thing today was the weather. It is the learning curve with these cars. This is the first year they've all been fairly a common, basic car with different noses and tail pieces and stuff. The teams just get better, the shock technology gets better, the engines get better, the aero is better--everybody just continues to learn."

THE WAY THINGS STARTED OUT THIS SEASON, WHEN YOU STRUGGLED WITH THE TKODAK EAM, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW IT FEELS TO BE UP HERE ON THE PODIUM TNOW?

"It's hard to be politically correct sometimes, but I really want to thank Kodak for the opportunity that they gave me. They're a great, great sponsor, and it didn't work out for us, but I wish them all the best. I wish Larry McClure the best. The best thing he ever did for me was fire me, so I could get back out here and get my credentials back where they're supposed to be and prove that I can still drive a race car and that I'm not really washed up and need a provisional every week to get in."

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TODAY TO BE ON THE PODIUM IN GETTING YOUR DEAL PUT TOGETHER FOR NEXT YEAR?

"I think our deal for next year is 80-percent done. I would still like to pursue a few other things as well. It doesn't matter if you've had a great year or a bad year. We've had two or three bad years and I was injured before then. We've been pretty much a hard-luck story. We've been competitive at times, but we can't get the consistency that some of these guys have had with their teams and their situations. I can still drive a race car, and fortunately, people in racing know that and are still giving me opportunities to go out here and do something I really love to do for a living. I've known these guys a long time. I remember Dale when he was running short tracks and just starting out. I'm really proud of him. He's come a long way and grown up a lot. Jimmie was struggling just two or three years ago, and now he's up there running for a championship. It's great. I'm really happy for them. I still think we'll have some opportunities in our career to go win races. [Laughing] I want to do really good so Dale Jr. will let me drive the Chance2 Motorsports car one of these days."

ARE YOU ON THE EDGE IN QUALIFYING?

"I think we got pretty much all there was out of ours. I don't know about these guys."

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Skinner