Skinner's luck changes with Truck win at Vegas

Updated: September 24, 2006, 1:19 AM ET
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Mike Skinner raced to his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory of the year Saturday night, passing Ted Musgrave with 20 laps to go and holding on to take the Smith's Las Vegas 350.

Skinner, who started from the pole for the sixth time this year, led 114 of the 146-lap, 219-mile race on the reconfigured Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The victory was his first since Sept. 8, 2005, in Richmond.

Musgrave finished second, about three truck-lengths behind Skinner's Toyota. Mike Bliss was third, followed by Johnny Benson, Ron Hornaday, David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose, Dennis Setzer, Kraig Kinser and Aric Almirola.

"We had an awesome truck," said Skinner. "We quit practice an hour early last night and we quit practice an hour early today to save laps on the motor. I knew if things stayed green long enough we had a truck that was going to be hard to beat. I got beat on those restarts, so I wanted to go green longer. I thought I was better in the center of the turn than Ted, and that's the way we dominated."

Skinner earned $54,675 with the victory.

Series leader Todd Bodine, the Las Vegas winner last year, finished 12th. He has a 91-point lead over Benson with six races left.

The race was the first since the track changes. The banking in the 1.5-mile track's turns was increased from 12 to 20 degrees. The backstretch is now banked 9 degrees, which is the same as the front. Pit road also was moved 275 feet closer to the grandstand.

"I loved the old track," said Skinner, who averaged 117.812 mph in the race slowed by seven cautions for 31 laps. "But they did a phenomenal job with the racetrack. Goodyear brought a great tire here."

Musgrave and Bliss had different opinons of the configuration.

"I'm an old sentimental guy," said Musgrave. "I kind of liked the old one, but this one will come together. It is very fast on the trucks. You can run wide open. The new groove wasn't as treacherous as everyone thought. Let it age and the groove will keep growing."

Bliss said, "It was a little intimidating. It has some speed bumps. Where? Turns one and two, and three and four."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press