Mike Skinner was sent scrambling to find a new team when Bill Davis Racing was sold in late December and announced it would not race in the Camping World Truck Series this season.
Skinner, however, landed on his feet at Randy Moss Motorsports, finishing seventh in the opener last week at Daytona International Speedway. The strong performance has buoyed his spirits going into Saturday's San Bernardino County 200 at Auto Club Speedway.
“I couldn't be more excited,” the veteran said, “You can get up in the morning and dread to go to the racetrack, or you can get up and be excited to go to the racetrack. I'm definitely excited to head to the racetrack each week.”
Skinner was the champion of the series in the inaugural season of 1995 and drove regularly in Sprint Cup from 1997 until returning to the truck series with Davis, a Toyota-backed team, in 2004. Last season, he finished sixth in the points standings and won the 25th race of his truck career.
Davis' decision to sell the team, along with his Toyota engine- and chassis-building operation, caught Skinner by surprise, but the now 51-year old was able to take Toyota with him to RMM, which previously had raced with Chevrolet.
“Due to the cards dealt to [wife] Angie, myself and Randy Moss Motorsports, there was a lot of work that had to come together quickly before Daytona,” Skinner said, “There were some hard cards to play. I mean, my team found out I was going to drive for them two-and-a-half weeks before the season started. They had to change manufacturers, get Daytona trucks ready and get California trucks ready in a short amount of time.
“It is easy for a team to get that amount of work done when you can start right after [2008 finale] Homestead, but my team did a fantastic job of getting everything done and giving me a fast, competitive truck to drive in Daytona. It says a lot about [crew chief] Eric [Phillips] and [co-owner] David [Dollar] and all of those guys.”
Skinner won the truck race at Auto Club Speedway in 2007, sat on the pole there for the Cup race in 2000 and led 64 laps en route
to finishing seventh. It is a hometown track of sorts for Skinner, who was born in the adjacent community of Ontario, but was raised in the far northern California town of Susanville.
Todd Bodine, in Germain Racing's unsponsored Toyota, won at Daytona last weekend and will be going for his third straight victory in the series, having closed out 2008 with a victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. Bodine also has a strong record at Fontana. He was second to Kyle Busch last season, second in 2006 and won in 2004.by Tim Tuttle
Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service