Mike Skinner guns for record fourth consecutive Budweiser Pole at Texas Motor Speedway DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 6, 2006) -- Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) wrote the book on winning Budweiser Poles in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck ...
Mike Skinner guns for record fourth consecutive Budweiser Pole at Texas Motor Speedway
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 6, 2006) -- Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) wrote the book on winning Budweiser Poles in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
In 1995, when the Susanville, Calif. competitor was carving up the competition in a black No. 3 Chevrolet fielded by Richard Childress, Skinner reeled off 10 consecutive poles -- a record likely to stand the test of time.
No surprise, then, that Skinner put Childress' Chevy on the pole for the 1997 Daytona 500 after winning a championship, 16 races and 15 Budweiser Poles in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. His 25 career poles rank second to Jack Sprague's (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota) 27, but in 112 starts versus Sprague's 230.
Skinner, who will celebrate his 49th birthday later this month, returned to the NCTS in 2004, and on Friday hopes to add another record to his extensive resume. A pole in the Sam's Town 400 will give the Florida resident four consecutive at Texas Motor Speedway and break a record he shares with Ron Fellows at Watkins Glen International. He holds the TMS qualifying record at 182.902 mph. "If that means anything, I am going to let off the gas so we can qualify a little worse and go for the win."
"You show up at the racetrack and you want to be first in practice, first in qualifying and first at the end of the day," Skinner said. "If you can get only one out of the three (the pole), it is better than not any at all."
Winning the pole isn't always the key to victory -- Skinner, for example, has yet to win at Texas -- but it's a morale boost for both driver and crew.
"Anytime you get the pole it changes your race strategy a little bit," he said. "If it does anything, it pumps my guys up for the race. They know we've got a really good Tundra and it also gives them confidence in me as a driver.
"I think it is a good thing but I do not like to make too big a deal out of it because we have a lot of poles -- but we do not have as many wins."
Winning poles can be important to some drivers and not a big deal to others. A driver's approach to competition varies: some are strong and brash while others are quiet and reserved.
"My teammate Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota) is a perfect example of that," said Skinner of the 1995 NASCAR Busch Series champion. "He does not do anything spectacular but at the end of the race he is always up towards the front. I classify Benson as an excellent racer."
Skinner considers himself the opposite.
"Good qualifiers don't worry about the feel but rather just go all out and push the truck to the outmost limit," he said. "The trick is to be able to switch from qualifying mode to race mode. Guys like (Bill Davis Racing teammate) Bill Lester (No. 22 Toyota) and myself tend to drive into the corner too deep, which makes us good qualifiers but hurts you in the race a little bit.
"What you need is a strong core of people to remind us to slow down during the race."
The last pole starter to win in Texas was Bryan Reffner in 2001 -- 10 races ago. Six of the track's first seven winners started fifth or better. Since then the average has been 9.3 with Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) winning from the No. 22 slot in October 2004.
"I do not know why the pole winner hasn't won the race since 2001," said Skinner, whose finishes from the Texas pole have been 11th, fourth and second.