Skinner to drive Waltrip's No. 00 for evaluation purposes

Updated: August 13, 2008, 1:46 AM ET
Associated Press

CORNELIUS, N.C. -- Mike Skinner will take over Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 00 Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, replacing rookie Michael McDowell for the next three races.

Waltrip said Tuesday he asked the veteran Skinner to help the team evaluate where it can improve its on-track performance, as Skinner did earlier this year when he drove five races for Red Bull Racing, replacing AJ Allmendinger.

"Michael Waltrip Racing is fully committed to our sponsors, the success of our race teams and ensuring Michael McDowell, Josh Wise, David Reutimann and I have the necessary tools to succeed as drivers," Waltrip said. "We've asked Mike Skinner to evaluate areas where we can improve our on-track performance.

"I thought he did a really nice job of working with Red Bull and AJ Allmendinger earlier this year, and our No. 00 Champion Mortgage team could use the same experienced insight."

Waltrip said Skinner will drive the car at Michigan, Bristol and California, with McDowell returning at Richmond.

"We feel the same way about Michael McDowell as we did when we signed him," Waltrip said. "But this is the toughest, most competitive form of racing in the world and I know Michael and MWR can benefit from Skinner's input."

McDowell, coming off a race at Watkins Glen in which he was involved in a multicar crash, has driven in 17 of 22 Cup races this season without scoring a top-10. The 23-year-old driver is 40th in the standings.

"I support doing whatever it takes to improve the performance of our team," McDowell said. "No driver wants to get out of the car, but I understand that every part of our program needs to be evaluated, and that certainly includes me. I plan to support Mike Skinner and our team any way I can, and hopefully learn some things that will help when I get back in the car."

Skinner, fifth in the Craftsman Truck Series this season, said he is happy to help out his old friend Waltrip and work with another young driver.

"I know it's tough for drivers like Michael McDowell when they make the big jump to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from other divisions like the ARCA Series or the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but Michael has done a really good job for MWR in a sport that's fiercely competitive," Skinner said. "I look forward to us working together."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press