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Red Clay Report - Cruz Skinner (Read 4015 times)
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Red Clay Report - Cruz Skinner
08/11/14 at 2:58am

Red Clay Report - Cruz Skinner

Late Model Mark
Pinson, Alabama (August 10, 2014)

Sometimes when you go to races frequently, events, finishes, they can and will all blend in together. In my case I have the honor and pleasure of announcing races at what is now my home track, Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, Alabama. Also announcing at other tracks in the South as well can give you a lot to ingest over the course of years. One particular driver somewhat flew below my radar, I did pick up a blip every now and then, now things are sure right in front of me, one driver that has been super impressive and has become a favorite of mine as well as many of the fans in the stands. This round of the Red Clay Report is about the young sensation here in Alabama, Cruz Skinner. A 12 year old superstar in the making.

His birthplace here in Alabama was in Jacksonville, now in residing Oxford just a short drive from Talladega, Cruz got bitten by the racing mosquito when his dad took him to the now closed Green Valley Speedway near Gadsden, Alabama. After that first race Cruz knew he wanted to race, the more his dad took him, the intense desire to race increased. After some time his dad got him a dirt Go Kart and off they went. Racing at Green Valley and Talladega's superb dirt kart tracks, Cruz just ran off the chart with wins numbering 300 and change wins! Then the decision was made to climb another rung of the racing ladder by climbing up to a 4-banger Nissan Maxima to race in the cruiser/hot shot class. Young Cruz displayed his skills with a spectacular performance at the 2012 Ice Bowl, setting the stage for future stardom. Cruz ran mostly at Green Valley in the cruiser class that had a mix of V-8 powered cars as well as many combinations of 4-banger rides. Cruz  would win his fair share of races, getting better each race. In the last season of racing at Green Valley, Cruz flat smoked the competition winning multi shows at the "Jungle."

Near the end of the 2013 campaign, the decision was made to make the jump, no, make the big leap in the world of Late Models and go Crate racing in the toughest region for that class, here in the Southeast. A Master$bilt chassis was aquired along with a hauler and all the bells an whistles needed. Early 2014 found the team tackling the huge learning curve required with Late Models, the usual tire, suspension, and shock choices. Talladega was the choice as the home track, a tough track to win at due to the caliber of racers on hand each week. The season got rolling in early March, Skinner was plagued with lousy draws the resulted in back of the pack starts, a blessing in disguise. Cruz learned vast amounts of patience, learning that you need to finish and bring the car home in one piece, he did that. March was tough, April was better, May found this young man in the hunt for a win. Announcing this young star was really a load of fun as the his fanbase  rose up too. Then came June.

On June 7th, Cruz won his first Crate race at Talladega in super impressive fashion, driving like a seasoned vet. Then came June 14th and he won again! All this against tough racers including track and Nesmith National point leader Adam Gauldin and multi-winner Mike Combs. On June 21 he dogged Gauldin and that race resulted in a top 5 result. Then he closed out the month of June with his 3rd win of the month winning again!! Winning 3 of 4 races in June!! In my view the race that really stood out was on a Thursday night at Talladega, The Nesmith National Crate Series rolled into TST, with 43 premium teams on hand, Cruz timed in the top 5 and was locked in the show, Cruz then drove a gem of a race and garnered a top 5, impressive. Top 5 finishes in the next couple of races ensued, then came the August 2nd weekly race at Talladega. In what I have called the best Crate race at TST this year, Cruz raced door handle to door handle for 16 incredible laps with  Adam Gauldin, Cruz squeeked by Gauldin in a thriller to win his fourth Crate race of the year. The Crates at Talladega have run 19 races with 11 different winners and Cruz has scored 4 wins, all this for a 12 year old kid.

Some progression, early season races had him jumping cushions and slappin' walls, now the boy is winning events. Cruz knows he has been blessed big time, never forgetting where he has been, his ultimate goal is to race with Nascar. There may be a driver development deal down the road as well. Young Skinner will finish out the season at Talladega, then run other tracks in September then closing out his season with some large events such as the Alabama State Championships and National 100 at East Alabama Motor Speedway and the Nesmith finals at East Bay in December. With his Go Kart wins and his Cruiser and Crate Late Model wins, he has 333 wins, wow! When I have talked to Cruz he is so polished and respectfull, you hear yes sir and no sir a lot. He sure has grabbed the attention around here with magazine pieces and some spots on local TV stations. I have myself become a big fan of this racer, he has god given talent by the truckloads, amazing patience  and skill behind the wheel, just flat boggles me how good he is, all this being only 12 years of age. The sky is limit. Cruz will run for the 2015 Nesmith National Title in 2015, Man is the youngster good, and I have had a blast announcing his racing at Talladega in 2014. If the cards fall right, he will be the next big thing. Till next time.

Late Model Mark
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