Race Weekend Central

2008 NASCAR Driver Review: Mike Skinner

Mike Skinner

2008 Rides: No. 27 Bill Davis Racing Toyota (one race), No. 84 Team Red Bull Toyota (seven races), No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota (three races)
2008 Primary Sponsors: Bad Boy Mowers (No. 27), Red Bull (No. 84), Champion Mortgage/Affliction Clothing (No. 00)
2008 Owners: Bill Davis (No. 27), Dietrich Mateschitz (No. 84), Michael Waltrip (No. 00)
2008 Crew Chiefs: Richard “Slugger” Labbe (No. 27), Ricky Viers/Jimmy Elledge (No. 84), Peter Sospenzo (No. 00)
2008 Stats: 11 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 0 poles, 48th in points

High Point: After missing the field at California in the second race of the season, Mike Skinner returned to the track the following week in the No. 27 Bill Davis Racing Toyota and landed a fifth-place starting position – his best Cup qualifying effort in nearly five years. It would be the only time the organization’s second car would make a Cup race during 2008, as the extra team suspended operations just two weeks later due to a lack of sponsorship.

Low Point: In all 11 starts Skinner made during the 2008 season, he failed to finish on the lead lap in every race, and never finished inside the top 25.

Summary: Skinner served as a fill-in driver for three different teams this season. After making two attempts to qualify and only one start in the No. 27 Bill Davis Racing Toyota – replacing Jacques Villeneuve – the Ontario, Calif. native stepped into the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota to give young driver AJ Allmendinger some pointers from early March to mid-April. While becoming a mentor in advancing the open-wheel convert’s transition to stock cars, Skinner’s strong qualifying runs kept the team in position to eventually come back and make a run at the Top 35 in owner points.

After AJ returned to the seat at Talladega, Skinner returned his focus to his full-time ride in the Truck Series… but over the summer, the phone rang once more. In mid-August, Skinner piloted the No. 00 (now No. 47) Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota in August for three races, scoring a best finish of 28th while attempting to mentor another young driver – Michael McDowell.

Finally, in late September, an announcement was made declaring Skinner and Scott Speed as the drivers to finish out the 2008 season in place of Allmendinger, who had been released from his contract early. Unfortunately, while Skinner helped these young drivers off the track, he tended to struggle on it each Sunday; an average finish of 32nd was hardly indicative of the talent this 51-year-old still showed behind the wheel in the Truck Series.

Off-Track News: In mid-December, Mike Skinner and wife Angie visited the Betty Jane France Center for Pediatrics (Speediatrics) unit at the Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida with gifts for the children there.

2009 Outlook: Mike Skinner is currently not scheduled to run in the Sprint Cup Series for the 2009 season, and has recently been released from Bill Davis Racing’s Camping World Truck Series team. Skinner says he has been talking to CWTS and Sprint Cup Series organizations, however, and is “85% sure” he’ll have a ride by February.

2008 Frontstretch Grade: D

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