Skinner can't wait for start of '98 season

Skinner can't wait for first green flag of '98 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 1998) Mike Skinner can't wait for the start of the 1998 NASCAR WInston Cup season. "There is no question in my mind we will be a lot better," Skinner said. "We...

Skinner can't wait for first green flag of '98

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 1998) Mike Skinner can't wait for the start of the 1998 NASCAR WInston Cup season.

"There is no question in my mind we will be a lot better," Skinner said. "We learned a lot last year."

Car owner Richard Childress agrees.

"You could see that team coming together more and more toward the end of last year," Childress said. "I think they will be a lot stronger this year."

For both Skinner and Childress, a "lot stronger" means a top-15 finish in the standings and possibly a win or two.

"We want to run a lot better each week, be more consistent, finish in the top-15 and win a race," said Skinner, who finished 30th in 1997.

In winning the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year Award, Skinner had three top-10 finishes headed by a sixth-place effort in the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono International Raceway. His two other top-10s came at Dover Downs International Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, both ninth-place finishes.

"A win has to be the main goal," adds Skinner. "Once you get a taste of Victory Lane, your hunger to return there grows and grows.

"It is just a place where you can't get enough of. I've won a lot of races, but that win in Japan as awfully special because it was my first in a Winston Cup car. But Skinner knows he'll have his work cut out for him at Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway. A tough group of Ford Tauruses dominated the winter testing sessions, giving Skinner's team a steep hill to climb.

"They had the four fastest speeds in testing and the fastest Ford (Kenny Irwin) was better than three-tenths (of a second) quicker than the fastest Chevrolet (Jeff Gordon). It will be up to NASCAR to get things balanced out."

Irwin's first lap was 190.609 mph, compared to Gordon's speed of 189.155 mph.

Skinner did his testing at Daytona in the first General Motors test in early January. His fast lap was 187.005 mph.

"The speeds were a lot faster in the second test for both the GM cars and the Fords, so I know we would have run quicker if we had gone back," Skinner said. "Dale (Earnhardt, his teammate at Richard Childress Racing) ran a 65 (47.654 seconds, 188.861 mph) in the second test. I figure we'll be in that ball park when we go back.

"I sure would like to sit on the pole again," said Skinner, who swept the Bud Pole Awards at Daytona in 1997. "That would be quite an honor. And we're going to give it out best shot."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Mike Skinner
Teams Richard Childress Racing