Skinner Leads Atlanta Testing

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Mike Skinner posted the fastest lap of the day, Tuesday, while Steve Park improved his speed from the day before in testing at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Skinner, driving a Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevy, turned a lap of 187.487 mph around Atlanta’s 1.54-mile oval. That was three-tenths of a second faster than Ryan Newman’s lap of 185.480 mph.

Shawna Robinson went 184.677 in her Dodge, while Wallace was at 182.910.

Park, meanwhile, was faster than his best lap Monday, going 178.264 mph. That was better than his 176.560 effort Monday and was also closer to Wallace’s speed than he was Monday.

Park is recovering from a moderate concussion suffered in a crash at Darlington Raceway last September. He probably won’t return for the March 10 MBNA America 500 at Atlanta, but if doctors and NASCAR clears him, Park could be back for the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington a week later.

Skinner is on the comeback trail, too. He had reconstructive surgery on his knee last year, recovering in time to race in the season-opener at Daytona. He’s with a new team and admits he’s still getting to learn the team.

“This is a win-win situation for us; we need each other,” Skinner said. “We’re both starting over, and this is kind of a last chance for both of us. We’re working on building the team and building communications.”

Atlanta has been a good track for Skinner, but he’s also experienced some hard times.

“The good and the bad here are the same memories,” Skinner said. “In 2000 we were dominating – led the most laps and was quicker than everybody by two or three tenths. Then with 19 laps the motor cut loose. We had another race we should have won that the car blew up, and then there’s the time I cut a right-front tire and left here in a helicopter. This place kind of owes me something.”

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