NASCAR

Skinner's breakthrough win should be first of many

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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In one conversation alone roughly two years ago, I spent probably six or seven hours on the phone with Mike Skinner, convincing him to do join the Toyota truck program. When this whole Toyota Tundra program came together roughly two years ago, a lot of it was centered around Skinner. He wanted to be in the Nextel Cup Series, but I told him, "Mike, I know you well, and you want to win races. Right now, there's just not a Cup program out there for you. You might get a nice paycheck, but to win a race, all the stars, the moon and the sun would have to line up perfectly." When I walked away from that Craftsman Truck organization about 14 months ago and then roughly a year ago, the truck team that Skinner and I had been with went south, I felt very responsible for Skinner, Travis Kvapil and everyone involved in that operation.
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To see Skinner move on to Bill Davis Racing and for that Tundra-branded truck to finally get to Victory Lane at Bristol, it gave me a sense of comfort and a sense of relief. Do I wish that I had been part of the win because of my relationship with Skinner? That would have been very special, but I'm just comforted and relieved that he made it back to the winner's circle. And by no means will be his last visit because Skinner will make many more trips to Victory Lane. Should he have already won half a dozen times or so? Absolutely. I think back at the races that were partially his fault, partially not his fault, all his fault and none of his fault. I can count at least 10 races like that, but the bottom line is he got there. Other Toyotas have won, but Skinner's victory was the first win for a Tundra-branded truck. I called Skinner while he was still in Victory Lane and left him a message. We talked the morning after, and I'm tickled to death for him, his wife Angie and for all of the Toyota people because I know how much they built this program around Skinner.


FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" will be on bookstore shelves soon, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

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