Mike Skinner found redemption on Saturday night in the Pro Late Model portion of the United States Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The long-time NASCAR veteran scored the pole but started in the 10th position due to a top-10 inversion. When the green flag unfurled, Skinner began his trek to the race lead. Unfortunately, he caught damage on Lap 4 due to a spin by Kyle Ivey on the frontstretch.
“The start of the race, a guy got wrecked in front of us,” Skinner said. I hate inverting starts, first of all. I understand why we do it. We are here in the show business. We have to put on a good show for the fans, but we got wiped out by a guy we shouldn’t have been behind to begin with. It wasn’t his fault. My son told me that apparently someone dumped him. We missed the car but caught all the debris.
“It tore the master cylinder up in the car and knocked the reservoirs off and lost all the brake fluid. My son says, ‘Hey, we are wiped out again. Just come down pit road.’ I said, ‘No we aint either. We are going to fix it.’ He said, ‘It doesn’t have any brakes.’ I said, ‘Just fix it.’ We got going. I went back to the back.”
During that time, Skinner knew that he should not overreact to what had happened on the racetrack like he has admitted doing during his NASCAR career. He knew that he had a fast car to work back toward the front of the field.
“You know, I laid awake several nights, my whole career, I overreacted to stuff, and that was a folly,” Skinner said about his mindset during the repairs. “I said, ‘You know what? You will be 62 years old in three weeks here. I’m like, ‘You’ll get over this shit. You can’t do this anymore.’ So you have to stay come and if you do, you have to keep your team calm. If they stay calm, we can conquer. When that happened it was so early in the race, I’m like, ‘It’s a 100 lap race. There are going to be three or four more cautions. We can keep coming down pit road. I think our hot rod is good enough that we will be OK.’”
After a couple of trips down pit lane, Skinner and his team were able to get the car back into raceable conditions. While working the way through the field, Skinner worked the right front tire.
By Lap 16, Skinner worked his way back to the top-10. By Lap 41 — with the help of a caution — Skinner was able to set sail to take the checkered flag.
The remainder of the race went relatively fast for Skinner as he spent time conditioning for the race instead of his typical relax and sip wine mentality.
“When I knew I was going to do this race, I conditioned for it. I did a lot of cardio, played a lot of pickle ball, golfed, and I walked 17 to 20,000 steps a day. I got my cardio up to where I knew I wasn’t going to fall out of the seat. By golly, I think I could go another hundred or two. A hundred is a pretty easy.”
For Skinner, running a Pro Late Model is a family affair.
His youngest son Dustin is the primary mechanic on his No. 5 Toyota. With five wins on the season and a second-place finish, he doesn’t know what is next in the Pro Late Model world, but knows he is still having fun.
The complete results from Saturday night’s Pro Late Model feature can be found below.
- Mike Skinner
- Jack Dossey III
- Jake Garcia
- Mandy Chick
- Mason Keller
- Ricky Moxley
- Ryan Herbert
- Wes Griffith Jr
- Josh Reeves
- Lee Tissot
- Dan Leeck
- Trever McCoy
- Carson Ware
- Jaden Cretacci
- Brandon Johnson
- Brandon Curren
- Trey Craig
- Shawn Szep
- Matt Maurer
- Clay Greenfield
- James Kirby III
- Martin Latulippe
- Terry Horak
- Kyle Ivey