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