Cruz Skinner earned his fourth win of the season last Saturday in the Crate Late Model Division at Talladega Short Track. With the win the 12-year old moved a step closer of reaching the points standings.
“He is tied at Talladega in that class (in wins with four),” Greg Skinner said. “He is sixth in the National points and he has been as high as second. One of the other boys that races down here has been in the lead most of the year, but has fell down to second. There are 400 and something drivers and most them are grown men. Four wins, he is second in track points and he is sixth in the national points is a huge feat considerating its his first year.”
Skinner said he had to use all the advice he has received in the past to take the checkered flag.
“I finished second in my heat race, so I started third,” Cruz said. “I got to second place around lap five and later I ran side by side with the leader for about 10 laps. I ended up passing him to win the race. It took a little while to get by him. I just remember what everybody has told me about racing. Everybody tells me to stay patient, don’t get in a hurry, because you will make mistakes, and race the track don’t race the other cars.”
Cruz began racing when he was 5-years- old driving go-karts. He won 300 races driving go-carts. At the age of 10-years old he raced front-wheel drive cars and won 26 races in two years. He said his ultimate goal to be driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
“My ultimate goal is to be racing in the Sprint Cup,” he said. “I just hope I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to get there. If I don’t make it there I’ll be happy racing with whatever top racing circuit.”
His favorite NASCAR driver is Jeff Gordon, not only because of driving skills on the track, but he likes the way he represents himself and his supporters.
“I look up to Jeff Gordon, because he does a great job of representing his sponsors,” Cruz said. “He does good on the track and he also surrounds himself with quality racers.”
Cruz Skinner will start the eighth grade at Oxford Middle School this week. Greg Skinner said his son knows that comes first. Greg Skinner, who raced for 26 years before retiring to spend more time with his family said he is impressed with the dedication that Cruz Skinner showed towards racing this summer.
“School is always first, “Greg Skinner said. “This summer, he was playing football and basketball and he gave it up all. He said dad I want to focus on my racing. I said that is fine, but you are not going to lay up in the bed until 12,1 or 2 and get up. Every morning, he is up at 7 in the shop working. He basically works on his car all day. He has one day a week and a couple of nights to go skating or have a friend over. He is in the shop working every day learning the mechanics of the car. We got tied in the points race and I said we have to figure out a vacation if you want to go on one or do you want to chase these points. He said we don’t have to go on vacation; ‘I just want to concentrate on my racing.’ He said can I just go through the week to stay with Ronnie Johnson to try to further my racing career. Ronnie Johnson is a Hall of Fame dirt track driver. He goes and stays with Ronnie some during the week and Ronnie teaches and shows him stuff. That is how dedicated he is.”
Greg Skinner said he proud of the maturity that Cruz Skinner has displayed as he has handled his own business on the track.
“It is really the dedication and work on his part and on our part,” Greg Skinner said. “It is a lot of people that makes sacrifices for him like the crew members that voluntarily help. It really makes me feel good, not necessarily the wins, but the way he conducts his business and how he handles his car on the race track. We are not out there beating and banging, we are racing people side. He goes to the part trailer and gets his own parts. He pays his own bill at the end of the night. I am making him conduct his own business. I am just as proud of that he has the dedication to do that.”
As the season winds down, Cruz Skinner is looking to move up the standings to put himself in position to win the championship.
“It will be great if we get some wins, but we need to go out there and perform to the best of our ability,” Cruz Skinner said.