Race Weekend Central

Mike Skinner: The Best Ever or The Best For Now?

Everywhere you turn, if you’re looking for anything about the Craftsman Truck Series, you’re bound to find something about Mike Skinner and his dream season. But is Skinner the best driver in Truck Series history or is he just the best in the series right now?

Skinner entered the Truck Series in an exhibition race Nov. 20, 1994 in the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevy fielded by Richard Childress. A few months later in Skinner’s first points race, he won by 0.09 seconds over Terry Labonte. Skinner went on to win seven more races and sat on the pole eight times during the 1995 season. An average finish of 4.8 and 18 top-10 finishes gave Skinner and Richard Childress their first championship.

A young Skinner ran one more full season with Childress in 1996. Again, he won eight races and had 20 top-10 finishes. Ron Hornaday Jr. had a slightly better season, finishing in the top 10 in all but one race and won the championship by 60 points over Skinner, who ended up third. Skinner ran four races in both 1997 and 2003 and two races in 1998, during which time he didn’t have a single win. When given the chance to rejoin the Truck Series in 2004 in the No. 5 Toyota Tundra, Skinner’s response was “Hell yeah!” Over the next three seasons, Skinner had three wins and 35 top-10 finishes.

Following a fourth-place finish in the Chevy Silverado HD 250 at Daytona International Speedway, Skinner has won four races this season and has started on the pole eight times, more than any other driver this season. In addition, Skinner has led at least one lap in every race this season, breaking the previous record of 12 held by Jason Leffler. With the exception of last Friday’s 20th-place finish in the Power Strike Diesel 200 at O’Reilly Raceway Park, Skinner’s worst finish of the season was eighth at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

With 13 top-10 finishes in 14 races, Skinner has an average finish of 4.7. Skinner’s closest rival in the standings is Hornaday, who has three wins and 13 top-10 finishes. Like Skinner, Hornaday has only one finish outside the top 10 and an average finish of fifth.

In 143 career starts, Skinner has 23 (16%) wins, 36 (25%) poles and 89 (62%) top-10 finishes. Only Hornaday and Jack Sprague have more wins than Skinner. In 189 starts, Hornaday has 32 (17%) wins, 14 (7%) poles and 131 (69%) top-10 finishes. Sprague has 28 (11%) wins, 31 (12%) poles, and 179 (69%) top 10s in 261 starts. Skinner has one championship under his best, Hornaday Jr. has two, but Sprague leads them with three. Skinner may be Mr. Right Now, but he’s got a little more work to do before he’s the best in series history.

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