Skinner Gets First Busch Series Victory
Posted March 12, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — Mike Skinner's newfound success in Winston Cup racing has overlapped into NASCAR's Busch Series.
Skinner led twice for 72 of the 195 laps, including the final 41, en route to winning the Yellow Freight 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Saturday. It was the first win in nine Busch Series starts for Skinner, who leads the Winston Cup points and will start from the outside of the front row in Sunday's Cracker Barrel 500.
``The car was so loose in practice that I could hardly keep it on the track,'' Skinner said after beating former World of Outlaws sprint car champion Dave Blaney to the finish line by 2.261-seconds - nearly a full straightaway on the 1.54-mile oval.
''The first 15 or 20 laps today, it was loose. I said, `Oh God, a replay of yesterday.' But the longer we ran, the better it got.''
Skinner, a former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, averaged 117.178 mph.
Blaney's Pontiac, which led five times for 52 laps, looked strong enough to catch Skinner's Chevrolet, but he lost ground on a late restart and couldn't make it up.
``He just got too far away from me,'' said Blaney, a Busch Series regular. ``I got passed by a couple of cars (on the restart) and it took me a few laps to get back by them. By then, it was too late.''
The race was slowed by six caution flags for a total of 49 laps. The worst of the accidents was a 10-car crash on lap 135 that wound up with Wayne Grubb and Dick Trickle being taken by helicopter to Atlanta Medical Center for X-rays and further examination.
Grubb, who had to be cut out of his battered car, complained of pain in his right shoulder and arm. Both drivers were awake and alert after the crash and neither appeared to have sustained serious injury.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., the defending Busch Series champion, got his second straight third-place finish, despite losing third gear during the race. He was followed by Kevin Lepage, Todd Bodine, Mark Martin, Geoff Bodine and Elton Sawyer.