The former NASCAR truck series champion suffered brake damage on his No. 5 Toyota after running over debris from a wrecked car on lap 3 of the 100-lap feature. After multiple visits to the pits for repairs, Skinner raced his way from the back of the field and into second place by lap 30.
A caution a few laps later bunched up the field and Skinner passed Jack Dossey III for the lead on a lap-42 restart. Once out front, Skinner won by a 3.7-second margin over Dossey.
“We missed the car but hit the debris and messed the master cylinder up,” Skinner said. “I saw the brake fluid and my son (his crew chief) was like, ‘We’re wiped out, just come down pit road.’ I was like, ‘No we’re not and we’re going to fix it. I don’t need any brakes.’ They got the car going and we came from the back twice.”
It was sweet redemption for the 61-year-old Florida resident who dominated the 2018 edition of the race only to get caught up with a slower car with 29 laps to go. The early problem couldn’t derail his fast car Saturday.
Skinner set the fast time in qualifying with a lap of 14.939 seconds at 128.442 mph and clearly had the fastest car during the race. Still, he was worried after putting so much pressure on the right front tire.
“I was hard on the right front where I passed so many cars,” he said. “I sat up in the stands and watched some earlier races and saw where right front tires were blown. My son Jamie said, ‘Run as slow as you can and still stay in the front.’ We slowed down, took care of the right front and it lasted until the end.”
It was second win at Bristol Motor Speedway for Skinner, who won a truck series race on the high-banked short track in 1997. He was well prepared for the race, putting in extra time to get in shape.
“Winning Bristol is awesome. I thought the last green-flag run would be an eternity, but it wasn’t,” Skinner said. “I don’t race full time anymore and I don’t spend a lot of time in the gym. When I knew I was going to be in this race, I knew it was going to be hot out there and I conditioned for it with a lot of cardio stuff. I felt like I could run another 100 laps.”
Indiana racer Dossey drove his No. 20 Chevrolet to the second-place finish, followed by Georgia’s Jake Garcia in the No. 35 Ford of Jake Garcia. Kansas driver Mandy Chick finished fourth and Indiana’s Mason Keller wound up fifth.
Ricky Moxley, Ryan Herbert and Wes Griffith Jr. took positions sixth through eighth. Defending race champion Josh Reeves of Abingdon finished ninth and Asheville, North Carolina’s Lee Tissot, a former weekly competitor at Kingsport Speedway, rounded out the top 10.
TOUGH NIGHT FOR TENNESSEE
Kyle Ivey, a Nashville driver in the Sterling Marlin-owned No. 114 Chevrolet, was the first contender eliminated. His car was hit from behind and slammed headfirst into the frontstretch, inside retaining wall, dropping the debris Skinner ran over.
Early race leader Clay Greenfield of Clarksville was eliminated just nine laps later in a multicar accident when he locked up the brakes to avoid contact with the slower car of Carson Ware.
Greenfield, a part-time truck series driver, was hit from behind and his car turned sideways — and hit hard by the oncoming car of James Kirby III.
“We had a really great car tonight. We came up on a lapped car about 10, 15 mph off the pace,” Greenfield said. “It looked like he was going to give me the bottom and when I went to go under him, he turned down to the bottom. I got the locked up and the driver behind me got into me and we turned sideways in front of the field.”
BARNES 1-2 IN STREET STOCK
Chuck Barnes Jr. of Louisville, Kentucky, beat his father to the finish line in the 50-lap Street Stock feature. It was the third consecutive win for the younger Barnes in the Short Track U.S. Nationals.
He started from the pole, but after an inversion of top six qualifiers, he had to work his way to the front. He took the lead from another Kentucky driver, Brett Hudson, with around 20 laps to go and held off Hudson on several late-race restarts for the win.
“I’ve watched my dad race on high-banked racetracks and he always laid low and was there at the end,” Barnes said. “That’s what we’ve done the last few years and it paid off.”
Barnes said the race was extra special because it was the first Bristol win for which his children were in attendance.
“They made a long drive for just 50 laps is what they kept saying,” Barnes said. “They were like, ‘Oh, it’s just a 50-lap race.’ I think it was well worth it, though.”
The elder Barnes passed Hudson with four laps to go to grab the runner-up spot. He wished the roles had been reversed, although he said it was a proud moment for the family.
“I’d like it to be the other way around, but it’s not too bad,” Chuck Barnes Sr. said. “It’s good to see my son win the race. He was pulling away, but I got a little closer after the caution. I might have gotten into Hudson a little bit. He got loose and I was able to get under him.”
Indiana driver Tom Gossar Jr. won a crash-filled 50-lap Compact division feature. Another Hoosier driver, Justin Brown, finished in the runner-up spot. Gossar lost the lead on a restart and fell to third before battling back to gain the win.
“It means everything. If anyone who watches short track racing, this is the biggest win you can get,” Gossar said. “I don’t know what happened with the car. I was afraid we had broken an axle. I felt we had a good chance to win. We had fast cars the last couple of years we came here to race.”