Thursday, September 24, 2009

NASCAR truck racer Mike Skinner familiar with Las Vegas track

By Anthony Fenech

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009 | 5:48 p.m.

If Mike Skinner doesn’t have an ownership stake in Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a win this weekend would certainly have him thinking about one.

The defending champion of the Las Vegas 350, Skinner has enjoyed a lot of success in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career at the track.

Just don’t remind him of that success.

“As the race track ages, its personality changes,” Skinner said. “And it might get where I don’t have that dominance anymore if I talk about it.”

In seven career truck races at the Las Vegas speedway, Skinner has two victories, five top 10 finishes and three pole victories.

This Saturday, he aims for both his third Las Vegas victory in four years and his third victory in his past four races this season for the Randy Moss Motorsports No. 5 car.

“I feel like this is one of my best race tracks,” he said. “Obviously, I don’t want anything to change at this place but as the track changes, we have to change our approach and set up.

“I really don’t know how things are going to be until we get out there Saturday.”

Standing in third place for the season, the 52-year-old NASCAR veteran is 246 points behind leader Ron Hornaday, who also has had his share of success at the Las Vegas speedway, placing in the top 10 six times in his eight races.

For as familiar with the track as Skinner is, the race will breed equal unfamiliarity for his crew chief, Eric Phillips, who is visiting the track for the first time.

“It’s kind of an unknown for me,” Phillips said in a statement. “He obviously has a feel there that he likes, so that’s what we’ll be trying to achieve.”

Skinner hopes his familiarity with the course will benefit his crew chief.

“His big challenge is to get the shock package right and for him to understand what I’m trying to tell him,” Skinner said of Phillips' first go-round at the track.

Joining the field for Saturday’s race is Todd Bodine, who sits in fifth place in the standings, and Ricky Carmichael, who is a former motocross racer.

“It’s a fun track to race at and we get to do a lot of things with the fans here,” Bodine said. “Everything about coming to Vegas is fun for us, but come Saturday, it’s on.”

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