Points leader Skinner feeling pretty good By Shawn A. Akers ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 21, 1999) Don't look now, but those lofty predictions you heard for Mike Skinner and the No. 31 Lowe's Home Improvement Centers Chevrolet team for 1999 are...
Points leader Skinner feeling pretty good By Shawn A. Akers
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 21, 1999) Don't look now, but those lofty predictions you heard for Mike Skinner and the No. 31 Lowe's Home Improvement Centers Chevrolet team for 1999 are starting to look pretty good.
It may only be two races into the season, but Skinner leads the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings by 29 points over second-place Rusty Wallace following a sixth-place finish in Sunday's Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400 at North Carolina Speedway.
Skinner, who finished fourth in the Daytona 500 last Sunday, is happy with the way his team is running at this point, but he isn't about to make predictions just yet.
"If we're leading the points headed into the last race of the season, then I'll think we've got a shot to win it," Skinner said. "We're still the hunter. We're still hunting for our first win. As much as we've struggled here at Rockingham, this is like a win for this team. This was pretty awesome. We've experienced this (media attention) in the truck series before. It's really no extra pressure. It's just one of those things you deal with, and it's a damn good problem."
Skinner was the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion in 1995 with Richard Childress Racing, so he's familiar with running up front. But it's taken him two years to adjust to racing at NASCAR's highest level.
Larry McReynolds, crew chief for the No. 31 team, is taking the same attitude as Skinner. He said it's just way too early in the year to start talking about contending for a championship.
"The points leader situation is certainly something to be proud of, but we just got going," McReynolds said. "It's like saying we led the first 10 laps of a 500-mile race. It's nice to do, but you've still got a long way to go.
"I'm proud of this race team. All winter long, I kept telling people this race team has what it takes. I've been in situations where race teams were awfully good and where race teams were not awfully good. I just knew the fire in my belly was telling me this race team is strong. Everybody has got hold of the rope and is pulling in the same direction."
And that direction seems to be the right one.
Skinner didn't fare well at Rockingham last season, his sophomore year in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. He finished 32nd in the February race, then finished 21st in the ACDelco 400 in the fall.
"Our goal was to get out of here on the lead lap with all the fenders, and we accomplished that," Skinner said. "I probably had every guy on this team come up to me this morning and say, 'Mike, if you can get out of here on the lead lap with all the fenders on the car, you'll have a good finish.'
Skinner and Jeremy Mayfield battled for the fifth spot fiercely in the final few laps, but Mayfield finally prevailed.
"We felt like we'd be in the top-10 and I think we finished sixth. I probably should have gouged it in there on Jeremy (Mayfield), but Jeremy always races me clean, and I wanted to race him clean. That wasn't for the win. That was for fifth place, the heck with it."
Source: NASCAR Online