The Winston Open, the Winston Notes

The Winston, Winston Open postrace notebook Mike Skinner began The Winston Open on the pole, but enjoyed his high ranking for only minutes as a faulty ignition system slowed him from the race's outset. "Before the first caution, we had an ...

The Winston, Winston Open postrace notebook Mike Skinner began The Winston Open on the pole, but enjoyed his high ranking for only minutes as a faulty ignition system slowed him from the race's outset. "Before the first caution, we had an ignition box fail and the motor started running on seven cylinders," said Skinner, driver of the No. 31 Lowe's Home Improvement Centers Chevrolet. "Then the (No. 23) got by us and we lost more ground. I probably overdrove the car trying to make up for it."

Following the caution, the Lowe's crew went to work replacing the ignition, and Skinner quickly saw the benefits.

"I thought honestly if it stayed green the way it was that we would be able to run Tony (Stewart) back down and get by him," Skinner said. "I was weighing him up, trying to find his weaknesses and our strengths."

The only problem was that Stewart had no weakness - and yet another setback was on the brink for Skinner.

"The ignition box went out (again)," he said. "I thought the motor broke; we had problems with the engine last night but got away with it. I thought the cam & was going flat. I switched ignition boxes during the caution and it took off running again so I thought the engine was OK."

But it wasn't. After that, Skinner was never a factor. He would finish the event in 12th position.

"We thought we were going to get into The Winston," Skinner said. "We thought we had the best race car and the best shot at it. It's always disappointing when that doesn't happen. But all the fenders are on it and we're all okay. We can go back and work hard this week and come back to try and have a good run in the (Coca-Cola) 600."

Which to most teams in the main focus during the week of The Winston anyway.

Skinner will pack up the ride he piloted in The Winston in favor of "Old Faithful," the car he drove to a fourth-place finish in last year's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"It's kinda been a backup car but a darn good one," said Skinner of the car he'll run next Sunday. "We ran the last race at Charlotte with it. We were running in the top-5 (last year) when we got caught up in a wreck. They fixed the car and we tested it here and it was pretty good."

Terry Labonte's victory in the 15th running of The Winston marked his second win NASCAR's all-star event and banked him a hefty prize of $207,500. He led 24 of the 70 laps, and became the fourth driver to score multiple victories in the event, joining Dale Earnhardt, who leads all drivers with three wins, Davey Allison (2) and Jeff Gordon (2). Labonte has competed in 14 of the 15 runnings of The Winston. The win bodes well for Labonte. Four former winners of The Winston went on to win the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship -- Darrell Waltrip (1985), Earnhardt (1987, 1990 and 1993), Rusty Wallace (1989) and Gordon (1995 and 1997).

Jimmy Spencer's feeble engine program continues to haunt the entire No. 23 team. Spencer finished as runner-up to ultra-quick Tony Stewart in The Winston Open, but took little solace from the second-place run. "They (Stewart) have a lot of horsepower in that car," Spencer said. "A lot of them have a lot of horsepower, unfortunately the 23 doesn't. There was nothing wrong with the car whatsoever. It was all under the hood. (We have) Absolutely no horsepower.

"I'm tired of holding back. I'm driving as hard as I can, but we can't do anything until we get some horsepower from some place."

Unless owner Travis Carter upgrades the engine program, Spencer is convinced that the No. 23 team will struggle to compete. To say the least, he's frustrated.

"Second-best. What good is it? I'm not gonna roll over and play dead because my guys have done everything they can, but I don't think the motor department has," he said. "I may get in hot water for it, but I don't care."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Darrell Waltrip , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Mike Skinner , Jimmy Spencer , Davey Allison