BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 12, 2003) - Mike Skinner hopes the spark he felt at Indianapolis as the driver of the United States Army Pontiac ignites into something bigger when he rejoins the team for this weekend's NASCAR Winston Cup race here at...
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 12, 2003) - Mike Skinner hopes the spark he felt at Indianapolis as the driver of the United States Army Pontiac ignites into something bigger when he rejoins the team for this weekend's NASCAR Winston Cup race here at Michigan International Speedway.
Skinner, who is subbing for the injured Jerry Nadeau, joined the U.S. Army team for the Aug. 3 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Last weekend he was a supportive visitor of the team as road racing specialist Boris Said took control of the 01 car at Watkins Glen International.
"There are plenty of positive vibes going on with this team," said Skinner. "I felt it was a good move to go up to Watkins Glen to give them my support. I was happy to see the guys and they were happy to see me. That's pretty awesome.
"We got off to a nice start at Indy. We didn't have much time together but we sure started to jell and develop that all-important team chemistry. Yeah, we finished 35th, but had we not got collected in the accident with 15 laps remaining, we would have easily had a top-15 finish or better."
There were many situations that impressed Skinner about the U.S. Army team's commitment, but what really got his attention was when crew chief Ryan Pemberton was waiting for him to return to his motorcoach at IMS after competing in the under-the-lights Busch race at nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park.
"It's the wee hours of the morning and there's Ryan standing near my motorhome," explained Skinner. "He wanted to discuss the setup for the Brickyard 400. That sure made a lot of points with me. I invited him in, we had a cold drink and talked about race strategy. Though the Army team has had tough luck this year, it is apparent that this is a team with plenty of potential and on the brink of enjoying success."
Skinner, the 1997 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, feels the way to achieve success is in increments.
"If you're banking on making huge leaps, then you're in the wrong sport," said Skinner. "What we need now is steadiness and a little luck. We need to run in the top 10 before we worry about winning races. If you run in the top 10 consistently, then you're going to get a top-five finish. And if you run in the top five consistently, then you're going to win races. We're going to go out and hit singles - that's the way you work yourself out of a slump."
Regarding the recent hard luck that has plagued the U.S. Army Team, Skinner feels it's only cyclical.
"I've been a victim of bad luck so much there have been times when I got out of the car, looked up and said, 'where is the black cloud,'" explained Skinner. "But by the same token, I've been on the other side of the fence. I had streaks where I couldn't do anything wrong and luck played in my favor. I've seen a lot of teams this year and in the past couple of years where they can't do anything wrong. When they have a bad day, they're 15th. Our turn will come."