Loudon II: Mike Skinner preview

LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 9, 2003) - Mike Skinner understands the varying degrees of emotion that NASCAR Winston Cup drivers confront on a weekly basis. However, his firsthand experience has taught him that keeping emotions in check is sometimes ...

LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 9, 2003) - Mike Skinner understands the varying degrees of emotion that NASCAR Winston Cup drivers confront on a weekly basis. However, his firsthand experience has taught him that keeping emotions in check is sometimes financially and mentally more rewarding.

"There's plenty of emotion out there along with a lot of pressure to do well," said Skinner, who is subbing for the injured Jerry Nadeau in the No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac. "The cars are so equal now that it makes it difficult to pass. And when you have a pack of cars running close together, something is bound to happen, especially when it gets close to the end of the race.

"Aggressive and close racing usually leads to a few spin outs, and spin outs, as we have seen, can then lead to a not-so-friendly post-race behavior. I know about this formula all too well. I've been there and paid the consequences. However, I've grown up enough to know that you cannot function that way in this business.

"Though I understand at times why drivers do what they do, volatile behavior cannot be condoned. The recent altercations are probably selling more tickets and getting more media attention, but it's not professional. And if we're not too careful, we'll hurt this sport, which has been pretty darn good to all of us."

Skinner, 46, doesn't pretend to be a perfectly behaved driver - he admits past mistakes, but said he has learned from them.

"I was once fined $10,000 by NASCAR and that really got my attention -- it woke me up," recalled Skinner. "I let my emotions get the best of me. I guess every driver has a story to tell when it comes to regretting a certain race-related action.

"I know what's happening out there right now and I do not want to be judgmental about others. This is a learning process for some young drivers and time will hopefully heal the wounds and control the emotions."

Speaking of wounds and emotions, Skinner is hoping this weekend's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon will be less of a roller coaster than he and the U.S. Army team experienced at Richmond International Raceway last week.

In between two accidents in Friday's practice sessions, he won the pole for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. Since the car he qualified in could not be repaired at the track, a third car was brought to Richmond from the team's race shop in Concord, N.C., forcing Skinner to start the race from the back of the field.

"We learned a lot about being a team in Richmond," commented Skinner. "We never said quit, never hung our heads and each time we got knocked down, we got right back up. We came away with an 18th place finish in a car that we never had any practice time in. It wasn't a great finish, but it was respectable, considering what we had been through.

"Regarding New Hampshire, the track is a lot like Richmond and I like that. I have had some success there in the past and hopefully this will be the week that it all comes together for the U.S. Army team. The talent is definitely there for it to happen."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Skinner , Jerry Nadeau