Sunday, April 10, 2011

CUP: Skinner Scores Third Texas Last-Place Finish

Mike Skinner picked up the 10th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Saturday’s Samsung Mobile 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his #60 Big Red Toyota fell out with a rear gear failure after completing 36 of the race’s 334 laps.

At Martinsville last week, Skinner became the third different driver in as many races to drive for Germain Racing’s second team, following Landon Cassill’s final start in the #60 at Bristol and Todd Bodine’s run at Fontana. While Germain’s primary team, Casey Mears’ #13 GEICO Toyota, in a tight battle for 35th in Owner Points, the #60 has still yet to run a full race, never completing more than 68 laps. Though the team finished last with Cassill at Las Vegas, the Big Red Toyota has made all six races since Todd Bodine missed the Daytona 500.

Skinner maintained this streak at Texas by qualifying 36th at a speed of 185.122 mph, besting five “go-or-go-homers” including Travis Kvapil, whose #38 ended up with its first DNQ of 2011. For the first time, the race would see Skinner sharing the team’s Big Red sponsorship with another car, Ken Schrader’s Frankie Stoddard-owned #32, who timed in 41st.

In the race itself, it once again appeared that Tony Raines would finish last when his #37 blew smoke down the frontstretch on Lap 10 in an incident similar to one he suffered early in the Fontana race. Under the yellow, Skinner and Michael McDowell in the #66 stayed out trying to a lead a lap, then went behind the wall. On Lap 22, with Raines still on the track three laps down, first Skinner, then McDowell decided to return to the track ten laps down. Over the next twenty laps, Joe Nemechek and J.J. Yeley also spent time in the garage and returned twelve laps down.

Then, on Lap 46, David Gilliland’s #34 Gander Mountain Ford blew a right-front tire in turn one and slammed the outside wall very hard. Gilliland was uninjured, but the right side of his Front Row Motorsports machine was completely destroyed, ending his afternoon. While Nemechek, Yeley and McDowell stayed out on the track long enough to shuffle Gilliland down to 42nd, Skinner never brought the #60 back out and ended up with his first last-place finish of the season.

Ken Schrader in the other Big Red-sponsored car finished 33rd after he dropped a cylinder early in the race. Casey Mears finished 26th in the GEICO Toyota and reclaimed 35th in Owner Points from Tony Raines, whose 34th-place finish slipped him two spots to 37th in points.

*This was Skinner’s first last-place finish since 2009, when his unsponsored #70 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet fell out with brake problems 6 laps into another Texas race, the 2009 Dickies 500. Skinner finished last in one other Texas Cup race, the 2005 Dickies 500, when his #37 Patron Tequila / Dodge lost the rear end after 151 laps.
*The #60 had never before finished last in a Cup race at Texas.

43) #60-Mike Skinner / 36 laps / rear gear
42) #34-David Gilliland / 44 laps / crash
41) #46-J.J. Yeley / 52 laps / electrical
40) #66-Michael McDowell / 56 laps / electrical
39) #87-Joe Nemechek / 60 laps / clutch

1st) Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek (2)
2nd) Landon Cassill, Mike Skinner, J.J. Yeley (1)

1st) #60-Germain Racing, #66-HP Racing LLC, #87-NEMCO Motorsports (2)
2nd) #46-Dusty Whitney (1)

1st) Toyota (6)
2nd) Chevrolet (1)

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