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Skinner wins crash-filled truck series race

3/31/2007 - NASCAR

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Mike Skinner started on the pole and
stayed out front virtually all day at Martinsville Speedway on
Saturday, leading all but seven of 253 laps to win his third
consecutive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.


Coming off victories at California and Atlanta, Skinner set a
series record by leading 246 laps and won for the 22nd time in his
career. He became only the second driver in the series to win twice
on the small, tight oval at Martinsville.


"This was about as good as it gets right here," he said in
Victory Lane.


Skinner beat Todd Bodine to the finish by 0.527 seconds after
the 15th caution of the race brought about a two-lap dash to the
finish in overtime. In all, the race went 253 laps, and 85 of them
were run under a yellow flag because of numerous accidents.


Each restart, however, only reinforced that Skinner's Toyota was
the truck to beat. Series champion Bodine ran second in another
Toyota, but never really challenged for the lead.


"His truck was just incredibly strong the whole race," Bodine
said.


Skinner grew weary of the cautions, but appreciate of Bodine's
style.


"I wasn't too happy with some of them guys," Skinner said of
the drivers whose battered trucks were involved in the late
cautions that only put off the inevitable.


"If there was a bunch of other guys behind me, we wouldn't have
won, but Todd Bodine was a gentleman and he'll come back," Skinner
said, adding that he feared getting caught up in the bumping on the
track. "What goes around comes around."


Bodine held second from the 82nd lap on despite battling the
flu.


"Hats off to skinner and [crew chief Jeff] Hensley. They've got
it going on," Bodine said. "I'm happy for them, but I'd like to
be beating them, too."


Rick Crawford finished third in a Ford, followed by Kevin
Harvick in a Chevrolet and Ted Musgrave in another Toyota. Six of
the top 10 finishers drove Toyotas.


Crawford said Skinner and his team are setting the bar very
high.


"That team has their act together. They've rubbed their truck
in the right way," he said. I've just got to go home and do my
homework and work on mine as hard as they are on theirs. I'm not
saying that hard work ain't the answer, but I think you've got to
be a little bit smarter. They're doing a great job and they deserve
it."


Harvick, who felt he had a chance to win, got clipped by Brendan
Gaughan on lap 208 and spent the rest of the day fighting his way
through traffic to get up front.


"I felt like we could have at least raced [Skinner], but wrong
place wrong time."