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WGI a mixed bag for Childress teams
1999 News
Brett Borden, NASCAR Online

Watkins Glen, N.Y. (Aug. 16, 1999)
For one Richard Childress Racing driver, Sunday's Frontier @ The Glen was another step in the right direction. For the other, it was a step he would like to have back.

Mike Skinner, who finished ninth in Sunday's race at Watkins Glen International, earned his 10th top-10 finish of the year in the No. 31 Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet, and his third in the last five races. Dale Earnhardt, who started his 600th consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup Series race, limped home 20th in his No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet, his second-worst finish in the last 18 races. At one point early in the race, he even got into his own teammate, knocking Skinner off course temporarily.

"We didn't have the car to run, and we weren't in position to run," Earnhardt said. "It was a bad day. I got by Darrell (Waltrip) on that last lap and I got off in the corner and I think he was back there with me. It wasn't Darrell's fault I wrecked.

"I got in that styrofoam or whatever it is. I got into the back of Skinner. That ain't too hard to do here. That 600th straight start was pretty sorry. It isn't one I want to remember."

Not only was it Earnhardt's second-worst finish in recent memory, it was his second-worst finish at Watkins Glen in his career, and third-worst on the two road courses currently on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit. Only a 23rd-place at the Glen in 1995 and a 34th at Sears Point in 1990 were worse. The Intimidator had finished 11th or better in nine of 13 WGI starts before Sunday.

Meanwhile, for Skinner, it was his second-best road-course finish in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in six starts, bested only by last season's third-place effort at the Glen last season. A top-10 finish was nice, but it could have been better if not for gear problems and contact with Earnhardt early in the race. Mum was the word from Mike about the incident.

"I don't know," Skinner said. "We were just racing real hard and got turned around there. I don't know what happened."

He did know one thing after the race -- where the team needed to work on its road course program.

"We still have to work on our gearing package more," said Skinner. "We improved it from last year, improved the engine from Sears Point a lot but everyone was just racing real hard. We lost a lot of track position early in the race but the guys did a good job on pit road. Larry (McReynolds) did a good job. We didn't turn a screw on that race car all day. The car drove awfully good today, but the gear leaving the pits really cost me a lot of time and really hurt me during the restarts."

But top-10s are hard to turn away, especially coming down the stretch where a spot in the top-10 in points is up for grabs. Skinner currently holds down 10th spot by 133 points over Ward Burton.

"It's a top-10, and that's what we need to do. In order to finish in the top-10 in the Winston Cup points, you gotta run in the top-10 and we managed to pull it off. We pretty much planning on doing that no matter what and the way it came down probably didn't help because some guy has fresher tires than we did. But that's the way we chose to run this race. We ran it this way last time. If it had stayed green, we would have had a much better day."

Regardless, Skinner had a much better day than his RCR teammate.