Toyotas again dominate in Truck race
Veteran Mike Skinner literally wore out the field Saturday as he drove his Toyota Tundra Toyota to victory in a record-breaking performance at Martinsville Speedway.
Starting from the Budweiser Pole, Skinner gave up the lead just once when pitting under caution and led a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series record 246 laps – including the final 172 – to capture the Kroger 250.
The victory, worth $54,200, was Skinner’s third in a row making the Susanville, Calif. driver the first to string three consecutive wins on two occasions.
Skinner, 49, was the first of four drivers to “three-peat” in 1996 – a season after becoming the series first champion.
He also became just the second driver to win twice at Martinsville in duplicating his 1996 victory.
“I can count on my one hand the number of times in 30 years that I’ve had a truck (or car) that dominant,” said Skinner, whose performance was witnessed by an estimated at 45,200 – largest in the series’ 13-year history at the track currently celebrating its 60th anniversary.
Saturday’s race saw three former champions – and the current top three in the point standings –finish first through third. Todd Bodine, despite suffering flu-like symptoms, rode the winner’s tailgate from the 82nd lap but fell .527 second – about two truck lengths – short in a green-white-checker finish that followed the race’s 15th caution.
Bodine, who trails Skinner by 94 points in the standings after the season’s fourth of 25 races, brought his Lumber Liquidators Toyota from a start of 28th in the 36-truck field.
Rick Crawford, winner of the race in 2004, finished third in his Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford with Kevin Harvick’s Camper World Chevrolet and Ted Musgrave’s Team ASE/Germain Toyota completing the top five.
Ron Hornaday Jr., Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates Aaron Fike and Tyler Walker, Timothy Peters and Johnny Benson were sixth through 10th as the first 20 finishers completed all 253 laps around the flat, .526-mile oval.
With caution consuming 85 laps – two shy of the Martinsville series record – Skinner averaged just 61.753 mph for the 133.08-mile distance. He earlier set a qualifying record of 95.985 mph.
Musgrave and Chad McCumbee were the race’s only other leaders, heading laps 75 and 76 through 81, respectively after Skinner made his only pit stop.
Skinner’s victory was Toyota’s third straight at Martinsville and the fourth of the 2007 season.
The series takes nearly a month off before heading to Kansas Speedway for the April 28 O’Reilly Auto Parts 250.