Skinner triples at Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, Va -- Mike Skinner drove through an open door for the lead and never looked back.
Skinner earned his third career Martinsville victory and clinched the manufacturer's title for Toyota, regaining his points lead in winning Saturday's Kroger 200 Craftsman Truck Series race.
"When Jack (Sprague) and Terry (Cook) got together (on Lap 134), it really opened the door for me," Skinner said. "I didn't think I had a truck that was strong enough to stay up front. . . The 60 (Sprague) was the best truck on the long greens, but those cautions kept flying and we came out victorious."
But behind Skinner, tension rose and tempers flared as trucks slammed into each other and the wall.
It started on Lap 193 when Tim Sauter got turned coming off Turn 4 with Travis Kvapil and Todd Bodine. When the smoke cleared, another six trucks were involved and the track was essentially blocked with Sauter's destroyed truck against the outside wall.
After a 17-minute red flag for cleanup, the green flag flew on Lap 197 of the 200-lap race, and contact between Matt Crafton and polesitter Jack Sprague started to muddle the front of the field. Ron Hornaday jumped up on the outside and raced from fifth to third by the white flag lap. Then Crafton spun off Turn 4, setting off another huge pileup as Skinner took the checkered flag.
Skinner, Sprague and Hornaday were the first three across the line while David Starr and Rick Crawford slipped through the smoke to round out the top five.
"I don't know. I'm not happy, but it was a great run," said Sprague, making his 400th career NASCAR start. "I think I had a shot at Skinner, but Crafton turned me sideways with two to go. Man, I wanted that bad."
"We just came through it, that's all we can say," said Hornaday, who lost his points lead and now trails Skinner by 11 as the lead changed hands for the fourth time in the last five races.
Sprague led the first 26 laps when nearly all the leaders made their only stop -- most for fuel only -- on Lap 27, while Terry Cook stayed out to try to go the distance without stopping. Cook led the next 108 laps until Sprague got into the back of Cook's Toyota on Lap 134, getting Cook out of shape. After Sprague completed the pass, Cook returned the contact, but instead of a run for the lead, it opened the bottom and Skinner took it, passing Cook and pulling alongside Sprague for the lead.
Ex-F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve further ruined his career, crashing out of his third straight truck race. Meanwhile IRL star Dario Franchitti retired. And let's not forget that IRL star Sam Hornish failed to qualify for Sunday's Nextel Cup race. He has failed to qualify for any Nextel Cup race and has looked like a complete wanker now that he is not driving a 100% throttle no talent required IRL car.