The Callahan Report: Mike Skinner Wins In Japan

24 November 1997

SUZUKA, Japan: Although he won't receive any Winston Cup points for the feat, Mike Skinner goes into the record books as a winner in NASCAR Winston Cup competition. The 1997 rookie of the year won the NASCAR Thunder Special Suzuka exhibition race in Japan.

Mark Martin, who finished third in the NASCAR Winston Cup points chase last weekend, came across the line in second place. Martin was passed by Skinner with twenty-five laps remaining in the race. Skinner's average speed for the 125 lap exhibition was 80.6 mph.

Randy Lajoie, who won the Busch Grand National Championship this year, finished in third place. He was followed by another NASCAR Winston Cup regular, David Green.

During the regular season, Skinner had three top-ten finishes. He finished 30th in the final point standings. He had 31 starts and won just over $790,000 for his 1997 efforts. His win in Japan added another $98,000 to his 1997 W-2 form.

Michael Waltrip, who started 15th, finished in fifth place. He was followed by Jim Richards of Melbourne, Australia, Kenny Wallace, Jack Sprague, Butch Gilliland and Geoff Bodine.

Notables that finished outside the top ten were Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace. Earnhardt went out on lap twenty-nine due to overheating problems. He finished 27th in the race. Rusty Wallace, the defending Japan Champion, did even worse. He had an engine failure which placed him 29th in the 30 car field.

[ Rusty Wallace ]
Rusty Wallace
Rusty Wallace, Won Last Year, 29th This Year

Final Results with finishing position, (starting position), driver,
hometown:

 1.  (4) Mike Skinner, Susanville, Calif.
 2.  (1) Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark.
 3. (11) Randy Lajoie, Norwalk, Conn.
 4. (12) David Green, Owensboro, Ky
 5. (15) Michael Waltrip, Owensboro, Ky
 6.  (2) Jim Richards, Australia
 7. (23) Kenny Wallace, St. Louis
 8.  (5) Jack Sprague, Concord, N.C
 9. (19) Butch Gilliland, Anaheim, Calif.
10.  (6) Geoff Bodine, Chemung, N.Y.
11.  (7) Keiichi Tsuchiya, Japan
12. (14) Scott Gaylord, Lakewood, Colo.
13.  (9) Ron Hornaday, Palmsdale, Calif.
14. (16) Bobby Hamilton, Nashville, Tenn.,
15. (27) Larry Gunselman, Sierra Village, Calif.
16. (25) Sean Woodside, Saugus, Calif.
17. (30) John Kinder, Santa Ana, Calif.
18. (17) Kenny Irwin, Indianapolis
19. (26) Ricky Craven, Newburgh, Maine
20. (21) Lance Hooper, Palmdale, Calif.
21. (24) Hideo Fukuyama, Japan
22. (22) Rick Carelli, Denver
23. (10) Akihiko Nakaya, Japan
24.  (8) Wally Dallenbach, Basalt, Colo.
25. (29) Kazuteru Wakida, Japan
26. (28) Jeff Davis, Anaheim Hills, Calif.
27. (13) Dale Earnhardt, Kannapolis, N.C.
28. (20) Kevin Culver, Portland, Ore.
29.  (3) Rusty Wallace, St. Louis
30. (18) Bill Sedgwick, Acton, Calif.

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel

Editor's Note: The images displayed in this article (plus many more drawings) can be viewed in the Visions Of Speed Art Gallery.

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