Skinner leads all but 20 laps in win
NEWTON, Iowa -- Mike Skinner was headed for certain victory when he glanced at his truck's fuel pressure gauge and gasped.
It read zero.
"I yelled, 'I'm out of gas! We're out of gas,'" Skinner said of the frantic call to his pit crew. "They said, 'Well, just keep going. There's nothing we can do about it."
As it turned out, Skinner had enough in his Toyota's tank to not only win the first Camping World Trucks Series race at the Iowa Speedway on Saturday night, but to celebrate with a burnout.
"Obviously, it wasn't out of gas," he said, smiling. "Maybe it vapor locked. Maybe my nerves let some air in."
Things got a little tense for Skinner when the yellow flag came out because of debris with seven laps to go. He was leading second-place Aric Almirola by 7 seconds appeared headed for an easy wing.
They restarted with four laps to go and Almirola right on Skinner's tail. But Skinner pulled away to win by 1.370 seconds.
"Anytime you're running second, you've got to think you have a shot to win the race," Almirola said. "But Skinner was unbelievable tonight. Our truck just wasn't good enough to do that."
Skinner, who started on the pole, led for all but 20 of the 200 laps in winning for the 27th time in the series. He made some practice runs on the 0.875-mile Newton oval a couple of years ago and said that experience showed him his truck handled well on the track.
"We were just really, really fast," Skinner said. "We took that truck to Kentucky after that and really didn't do anything to it and won that race. We knew if we came back that this track suits us."
Kyle Busch, who won the two previous trucks races, is racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend. Brian Ickler took over the No. 51 truck that Busch used in those victories, but was never in contention and finished 18th.
Skinner, who drives for Randy Moss Motorsports, went inside to slip past early leader Matt Crafton on the 18th lap and easily fended off any challenges after that.
Almirola moved to the lead when Skinner made his final pit stop on lap 113. But Skinner was back in front three laps later and steadily pulled away -- until the yellow came out.
Then, on the restart, he quickly dashed any hope Almirola had of catching him.
"We really were on a razor blade tonight as far as getting the truck to handle the way we wanted," Almirola said. "We went from loose to tight. We never could find a happy medium."
The second-place finish was a career-best for Almirola. Braun passed Hornaday, who has a series-best six wins this year, to get third.
"At the end it was a lot of fun batting with Ron," Braun said. "He's a hard guy to pass."
Hornaday usually excels on short tracks like this one and as he began weaving his way through traffic, it looked as though he'd have a chance to win yet again. He stood second midway through the race, but never could make a serious run at Skinner and eventually dropped back.
Skinner's other victory came in a rain-shortened race on April 27 at Kansas Speedway. His No. 5 truck was the fastest in the final two practice runs and then again in Saturday's qualifying.
And when it counted, it was the fastest then, too.
"All I did tonight," Skinner said, "was ride on a thoroughbred."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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