CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – For much of his football career, Randy Moss was known as much for his tangles with authority as his spectacular playmaking.

Moss has steered clear of trouble the past couple of seasons with the New England Patriots. Now the receiver is taking his new look even further: He’s gone from rule breaker to rule maker as a NASCAR team owner in the Camping World Truck Series.

With Moss making a financial commitment and depending on his racing-savvy staff, the two-truck team won its first race at Kansas last month. One of his drivers, Mike Skinner, is second in the points standings through six races.

Not bad for a guy who has made six Pro Bowls, but also has faced legal issues, once squirted water on an official and walked off the field before a game was over.

“I know there’s been a lot of negative talk about me as a player and me as an owner and coming into NASCAR, and do I know what it takes to be successful in this league,” Moss said. “When I have the help, with the knowledge that these guys have and a lot of the talks and helpful tips that they have given me about being an owner, I think that just makes my job a little easier.”

Moss spent last weekend at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, playing the role of both owner and celebrity. He toured the garage, served as a judge for a burnout competition, and was in the pits when Skinner was involved in an airborne, truck-flipping crash.

Skinner walked away from the accident on Friday, while teammate Tayler Malsam finished eighth for his second top-10 of the season.

That left Skinner 84 points behind points leader Ron Hornaday Jr. Malsam, a rookie, sits 12th. It’s an impressive showing for a team that didn’t come together until weeks before the season-opener at Daytona – and still lacks a full-time sponsor for Skinner’s car.

“Everybody is really operating as thin as we can in order to still be competitive,” Skinner said. “It’s awesome working for Randy and (co-owner) David (Dollar) because they know how to win and they also know that you’re not going to win every time we go.

“I think there are a lot of parallels and similarities in what he does and what we do. We’re athletes at different levels. His is a lot more physically demanding probably than what we do. Both of them are very mentally demanding.”

Moss, who grew up in NASCAR-loving Rand, W.Va., bought half of a race team from Dollar last year and changed the name. They used several different drivers in the No. 81 truck – Moss’ football number – last year.

This year, Malsam has been driving the No. 81 and the veteran Skinner is in the No. 5. The team, still looking to secure sponsorships, also adjusted well from the switch to Toyota from Chevrolet.

“A lot of people see the chemistry, but they don’t see what goes on behind closed doors,” Moss said. “We’re all a family and we try to run a day-to-day operation like a family. So the things that we’ve accomplished, like David said, we didn’t really expect it, but we were hoping that things would go according to plan. For us to get our first win at Kansas that early in the season will hopefully open up doors later in the season.”

Moss acknowledged that he won’t be involved as much later in the year after the Patriots open training camp. After missing the playoffs last season, Moss is eager to get back on the field with quarterback Tom Brady returning from a knee injury.

“When I became partners with David that is one thing I stressed to him that my main priority is football. That’s my life and that’s what I love,” Moss said. “Being able to branch off from businesses and being able to come up with Randy Moss Motorsports and have these two guys running for us has been a tremendous ride. But once the season starts it’s more to getting down to football business because that’s what I do.”

Still, Moss turned 32 in February, so life after football isn’t far off. That’s why an athlete famous for struggles with management now is management.

“I don’t really know how you can really compare the two because I play football and they do the driving,” Moss said. “So my hats are off to them every week and prayers are with them every week to go out there and stay safe and bring it home. I just try to balance the two and try to fit both of them into my schedule.”

AP-ES-05-20-09 1413EDT


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