Skinner, McReynolds on Darlington

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Skinner led all Team Monte Carlo drivers with a fourth-place qualifying effort on Friday. Skinner's 14th-place finish earlier this season was his best ever at Darlington, and ...

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Skinner led all Team Monte Carlo drivers with a fourth-place qualifying effort on Friday. Skinner's 14th-place finish earlier this season was his best ever at Darlington, and Friday's qualifying run matches his best starting position. "Qualifying was just that, qualifying. I think the high hopes for the Chevrolets at Darlington are the 24 and 3. The 24 gets around this place awfully good, but Steve Park shocked 'em at Watkins Glen. Maybe the 31 can shock 'em at Darlington. We have struggled so much here. If I'm asked my worst race track, it doesn't even take any thought. This has been my worst race track. It's hard to understand that because we ran so well at Tucson and Bakersfield and North Wilkesboro and places like that with terrible asphalt, places where you slip and slide after five laps. That's what Darlington is. We just haven't been able to master this place at all. "Normally the tough tracks are where I do good. I've just totally missed it here somewhere. I've tried to watch other guys drive it. We tested here one time with Ted Musgrave when he was driving for Roush. He gets around this place good. I learned a lot, but we came back to race and were terrible. We ran the last race here. We got caught up in an accident that wasn't in any of our doings. That was probably the best we've run here. I think we could have been in the top 10 at the end of the day. "By not testing here, we didn't have any idea what to expect with the tire. Our car was extremely loose with forward bite. We just couldn't get any forward bite. I've got to take my hat off to Larry and Royce and the boys. Everybody put an idea in the hat. We took a little of my ideas and a little of Larry's and Royce McGee's and went in there threw it under the car. When I looked last night at the sheet at how much we missed the pole by, it's less than a blink of the eye. I lifted off the throttle down there in turn one. I just didn't have the confidence in the car. If I could have had the car that good in our practice qualifying run, I think we could have got the pole. "From qualifying to racing is a totally different mendacity here, and that's one of the things I haven't been good at. I think I just need to go get real steady, no matter what the speed is. Don't worry about the stopwatch as much, just get that car drivable. When everybody slows down two seconds like we know they're going to, if we only slow down a second and a half, then we're going to be good. "I think maybe some attitudes have changed. I'm not even going to say to the worst, but we've really struggled with some stuff chassis wise. I go home half the time thinking it's the driver and the other half not. I guess time will tell. Sometimes change is what we need. I think that Royce will be the first guy to tell you that Larry has been instrumental with this whole thing. Larry has helped us all. I'm going to hate to see Larry go. I give him a hard time. I told him I'm going to be like an ex-wife. I'm going to haunt him. I definitely plan on doing that. I plan on being able to keep our relationship and friendship good enough where I can talk to him and I plan on remaining friends with Larry whether he's a broadcaster or goes and crew chiefs for another competitor. "If we can win a race, it would be good. If we can win two, it would be great. Now we're kind of out of the points race. We're 11th in the points, and I'm not sure we can get to 10th. I've already finished in the top 10 in the points, been there, done that. The next goal is to finish in the top five. It doesn't look like that's even possible this year. Our focus has really kind of changed gears to a little less conservative approach. We're trying to convince the engine shop. Decision wise, on pit road if we're struggling, instead of putting half a round, put two rounds. Just try a little different approach. We've been so conservative. It's time to hammer down. It's time to try to win a race. That's the way we've got to look at it the rest of the year. If we win a race, if we run good, the points could possibly get us back into the top 10. If not, and we can win a race, I don't care if we're 20th in points. If we don't win a race and we're 20th in points, then I've had a pretty bad year. "It's been quite a problem. It started out, and I didn't even think a thing about it. I didn't even tell anybody a thing about it for about a month. I just figured it was a pain that was going to go away. I've got a lot of 'em. This wasn't anything that was injured in any of my wrecks. This is a new ailment. This arm hasn't been hurt in any of my racing. I don't know what happened, but it's a case of tendinitis (right elbow) that's a little more severe than I thought. It's just not going away. Hopefully it will go away. I'm bad about every time it starts to get a little better, I'll take off and play golf or we drive a race car every week. We've been to Watkins Glen, and that was terrible for it. Bristol is terribly hard on it, and we've got Martinsville coming up. It doesn't get much of a break. We just get therapy every week and keep on working on it. Great people are working on it, and they're doing a good job. I don't think it's going to play a part on us winning or losing a race. "My plan A for Sunday and this is the plan every week, but it doesn't work. We've got to get our car handling. I'm not going to get all caught up in the stopwatch. I'm going to get that car driving good and get it where I can keep it underneath me. That's been our strategy at Martinsville. They usually run off and leave us for 20 laps and then we pass them back. That's a good race track for us. It's a good one to try to use a little of that strategy and not worry about the car being up on top of the practice sheet or worry about one or two really good laps. I want to be good on lap 25 and lap 35. I think those are the laps I need to be better at. We've been good the first 10 laps several times. By lap 40, we're losing a lot of positions. I'd like to settle somewhere in the top 10 and work on our car all day. If we can put it in contention at the end of the day to win the race, we'll go up there and try to take it. "They say a tire run here is going to be longer, but I don't see it being that way. Basically, what I see is the same thing we had before. You fall off so much that the guy that comes in and gets tires, he's going to be so much faster that you're just going to have to watch what the competitors. If we can finish in the top 10 Sunday, that would be a major accomplishment."

LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo) "Qualifying and racing here is completely irrelevant to one another. The only thing good about qualifying good is a good pit selection, starting up near the front, all those things that go with qualifying good every week, a little momentum for the race team. You can throw it out the window now. It's a new animal out there. You've got drivers, and this is certainly one of them, who has a knack of going down there and reaching down in that barrel on Friday. You've got sticker tires holding you. You've got a qualifying motor. You've got so many things that has nothing to do with Sunday. "At the end of 50 laps, it may be a better deal, but I'm not so sure right now it's a better deal. What we're seeing is because the right side tires seem to be harder, we're seeing it work the left sides and we're seeing the left sides wear about as much if not more than the rights, so I don't know. The jury is still out. Every time they try to fix this place with tires, it don't work. The only way they can fix it, they need to bring a concrete truck here. It couldn't be any worse. There's no way concrete could be any worse. It's wore out and they've paved it and they've paved it and they've paved it. It lasts for two or three races and it's right back again. I'm sure people said the same thing when they concreted Dover. You don't hear no more complaining about it really. It's predictable. "We can win right here Sunday. We can win next Saturday night at Richmond. We can win the following Sunday at Loudon. If I didn't think that, with me leaving at the end of the year, I'd say, 'guys, ya'll need to go ahead and get started on 2001.' That's one of the big statements I've made this week. We know the game plan. Let's get off this transition a little bit. Let's work on these 11 races. For a week or two there, we got too caught up in that. In the perfect world, I would have loved not to have said a word until the Monday after Atlanta. That wouldn't have been fair to anybody. We went about a week or two there and it was the whole topic. We know what the plan is. I'm going to TV next year and Royce (McGee) is going to be the crew chief. We're going to try to make sure that everything is in order before Atlanta. We made a transition two years ago in the middle of the week between two races. "I'm trying to involve Royce more in conversations with Mike, but at the same time, 2000 is the focus right now. Eleven more races and 10 more qualifying sessions. I'm not worried about 2001. People ask me about the TV deal. I'm excited about it, but right now, this is my deal. I've not worked with a driver since 1987, Morgan Shepherd, that I worked with and didn't win a race. It's about to kill me. If I told you any different, I'd be lying to you. I won a race with Brett Bodine. I'm not saying that derogatory. The competition today is fourfold stronger than it was in 1990 when we won North Wilkesboro, but the deal is, I haven't worked with a driver that I haven't won a race with since the mid 80s. "If you do your job every race day, the points kind of take care of themselves. Richard has encouraged us to do that (go for broke to win), but the only place you can go for broke more in this business is under the hood. What can we do with shocks and springs for a 400-mile race? Under the hood is the only place I know where you can go for broke, or maybe a little lower gear or something like that. But for the most part, that isn't the way to go. "This is an easy race. If a caution comes out, you put four more tires on. There's no thinking about it. I could put my nine-year-old on top of the pit box and say, 'OK Brandon, when that man in the little flagstand waves the yellow flag you call it back in here and put four more tires on.' It's a no brainer. Next week at Richmond and especially in two weeks at Loudon, it's not so simple, pit-not pit, two-four, it's a different game plan here. I've never won at Darlington. I've come close. It's a place I'd sure like to win a race. To do it in the Southern 500, it would be pretty neat to do."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine , Steve Park , Ted Musgrave , Morgan Shepherd