02/23/07
Skinner Steals One in California

Even Mike Skinner and his own crew chief were surprised to find themselves in Victory Lane following the San Bernardino County 200. It wasn’t that Skinner didn’t deserve to record his 20th career victory but with just five laps to go in the second Craftsman Truck Series race of the season Mark Martin was leading the way and sitting in the catbird seat.

Martin led 45 laps and beat Skinner in the most laps led category by just two circuits but after losing the Daytona 500 to Kevin Harvick on the final lap just a week before, Martin was determined to win his second consecutive truck race at California Speedway. Martin led the field to green on the late race restart with Ron Hornaday right on his back bumper and as the green flag waved it spelled disaster for the Cup Series regular.

Hornaday made contact and Martin spun into the infield grass while Mike Skinner streaked to the point and the caution flew for the sixth and final time. After that, Skinner had no trouble whatsoever as he held off Hornaday in what amounted to a green/white/checker finish and became the first California native to win at the speedway in Fontana. “I’ve never lucked into a win like this,” said crew chief Jeff Hensley as his first victory of the season started to sink in. “This is pretty cool.”
“I've lost so many races the way Mark (Martin) did tonight, it's about time we won one of these,” Skinner added. “My strategy was to hope Ron and Mark started racing each other and got into one another, and luckily that happened.”
Hornaday called the incident with Martin “just one of those racing things.” “Mark knows he tried to get me to get out of the gas,” Hornaday explained. “When the second place guy gets out of the gas and when the leader goes and you get back in the throttle, all you are going to do is spin the tires. It just happened. I wish it hadn't or it was somebody else.”

Martin could still manage to smile even after a disappointing 23rd place finish.
“That was a lot of fun,” he said. “All of a sudden my motor kinda revved up, the wheels starting spinning and I got behind in the steering.” Rounding out the top five were Daytona winner Jack Sprague, Carl Edwards and Ted Musgrave. With two races in the books and the next two weeks off, Sprague and Skinner are tied atop the driver standings with 355 points apiece.