Las Vegas Race is Skinner’s
Time to Shine
times this season Mike Skinner has led the way in Craftsman Truck
Series qualifying and then watched from the sidelines while someone
else made their way to Victory Lane. To Skinner’s delight,
things were different at the newly configured Las Vegas Motor
Speedway and this time, when the checkers flew, he was holding
the winning hand.
The new pavement at the 1.5-mile speedway promised to yield record
speeds and those expectations were met when Skinner shattered
the qualifying mark he set last September by 13 mph. Skinner then
parlayed that pole into his 19th career victory and first since
September 2005 at Richmond International Raceway.
Skinner was running second on the final restart of the race with
Ted Musgrave in front of him and restart expert Ron Hornaday on
his back bumper. He won a three-way battle for the lead on the
backstretch and from there he called on Lady Luck for nothing
but green flag racing. “(Hornaday) is good on those restarts
but our truck was a little better than his,” Skinner noted.
“He had my back wheels picked up and I couldn’t go
because the wheels were spinning. He did what he was supposed
to do. I knew if the caution didn’t come out our truck was
good enough to win the race. By gosh, the caution didn’t
come out. Can you believe that?”
Ted Musgrave, who was still miffed about a crash at New Hampshire
that put him in the garage early last weekend, bounced back with
his third runner-up finish of the season and third top five in
the last four races.
“We led some laps and the Team ASE truck was pretty good
but Mike Skinner’s truck was dominant all weekend,”
said Musgrave. “At least we gave him a run for his money.
We led some laps and got some bonus points. So we’re happy
Mike Bliss crossed the finish line third with his best run since
late June at the Milwaukee Mile while Johnny Benson and Ron Hornaday
rounded out the top five. Johnny Benson gained points on Todd
Bodine for the second race in a row and this week’s fourth
place finish moved him 33 notches closer to first place. The top-five
finish was quite an accomplishment considering the fact that Benson
nursed an ailing transmission from Lap 25 until the checkers flew.
“When it broke that early on I thought, we do not need this,”
Benson said. “On the restarts I kept getting passed but
I couldn’t do anything about it. We struggled most of the
weekend and then ended up good.”
The points leader had troubles of his own as he fought an ill-handling
truck all night long while battling back from an early penalty
for speeding on pit road.
“We finally figured out on the last run what happened,”
explained Bodine. “We had a jack bolt back out and we lost
all the wedge in the truck. We finally just cranked a ton of wedge
into it and the thing took off. We were actually almost as fast
as Skinner at the end of the race. Track position is everything.
We were back to 28th or 29th and we ended up 12th, so we salvaged
the best we could out of it.”
Bodine’s advantage sits at 91 points with six races to go
in the season. The series will take a break next weekend while
the teams prepare for the first visit to Talladega Superspeedway
on Oct. 7th.