Skinner dominates for third consecutive Truck victory
Mike Skinner started on the pole and stayed out front virtually all day at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, leading all but seven of 253 laps to win his third consecutive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.
Coming off victories at California and Atlanta, Skinner set a series record by leading 246 laps and won for the 22nd time in his career. He became only the second driver in the series to win twice on the small, tight oval at Martinsville.
"This was about as good as it gets right here," he said in Victory Lane.
Skinner beat Todd Bodine to the finish by 0.527 seconds after the 15th caution of the race brought about a two-lap dash to the finish in overtime. In all, the race went 253 laps, and 85 of them were run under a yellow flag because of numerous accidents.
Each restart, however, only reinforced that Skinner's Toyota was the truck to beat. Series champion Bodine ran second in another Toyota, but never really challenged for the lead.
"His truck was just incredibly strong the whole race," Bodine said.
Skinner grew weary of the cautions, but appreciative of Bodine's style.
"I wasn't too happy with some of them guys," Skinner said of the drivers whose battered trucks were involved in the late cautions that only put off the inevitable.
"If there was a bunch of other guys behind me, we wouldn't have won, but Todd Bodine was a gentleman and he'll come back," Skinner said, adding that he feared getting caught up in the bumping on the track. "What goes around comes around."
Bodine held second from the 82nd lap on despite battling the flu.
"Hats off to Skinner and [crew chief Jeff] Hensley. They've got it going on," Bodine said. "I'm happy for them, but I'd like to be beating them, too."
Rick Crawford finished third in a Ford, followed by Kevin Harvick in a Chevrolet and Ted Musgrave in another Toyota. Six of the top 10 finishers drove Toyotas.
Crawford said Skinner and his team are setting the bar very high.
"That team has their act together. They've rubbed their truck in the right way," he said. "I've just got to go home and do my homework and work on mine as hard as they are on theirs. I'm not saying that hard work ain't the answer, but I think you've got to be a little bit smarter. They're doing a great job and they deserve it."
Harvick, who felt he had a chance to win, got clipped by Brendan Gaughan on Lap 208 and spent the rest of the day fighting his way through traffic to get up front.
"I felt like we could have at least raced [Skinner]," Harvick said, "but wrong place wrong time."