St. Louis: Mike Skinner preview

MOORESVILLE, NC (July 15, 2003) - Mike Skinner's first race back in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was an eventful occasion. In typical truck series fashion there was beating and banging as well as several exciting moments. Skinner's No. 15...

MOORESVILLE, NC (July 15, 2003) - Mike Skinner's first race back in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was an eventful occasion. In typical truck series fashion there was beating and banging as well as several exciting moments. Skinner's No. 15 VOKAL sponsored ride found its way to the front of the pack on lap 38 of the Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway but ran out of gas later in the event and ended up one lap down in the 13th position.

"We changed the carburetor earlier and we underestimated how far we could go on gas, it was a shame. We could have run in the Top 10 easy, possibly even in the Top 5 but we fell victim to gas mileage. Even there at the end when the truck was coming around, we could have run upfront with the leaders -- we were just as good as the No. 88 truck (Matt Crafton)."

Despite the fuel situation it was evident that Skinner's Billy Ballew Motorsports truck was competitive with the front-runners, and the team served notice that better and faster days lie ahead. Skinner sees promise in Ballew's operation and in the team's ability to communicate.

"I had great communication with Billy Ballew and Gary Showalter," Skinner said. "I was able to tell them all that was happening with the motor and the handling of the truck. I'm here to help these guys out, I want them to perform to their fullest extent, and the communication that we were able to have this weekend is a great beginning."

Although Skinner has driven in over 50 NCTS races, he has yet to compete in a race at Gateway International Raceway. The shifty 1.25-mile oval will be his first start and his second in the No. 15 VOKAL Billy Ballew Motorsports vehicle. Skinner is looking forward to testing out the competition, getting a feel for the truck, and helping out the team in their need to improve their performance.

"I can't wait to go to Gateway," Skinner added. "I always look forward to new tracks -- they come to me as a new challenge. I've raced at so many different tracks that I'm always eager to add another one to my resume because you never know when it will come in handy. I think that after last weekend we will be pretty decent. With the lines of communication clearly open, there is a definite possibility to improve. This opportunity to help out Billy has also been to my benefit too, and getting to race at this track for the first time is one of the several benefits. I'm anticipating the race and believe that we will have a great chance at a Top-5 finish."

Skinner has won over at least one new fan and that is his team owner, Ballew. The long time NCTS owner is impressed with his driver's talent on the track and his contributions behind the scenes.

"Mike has been great to work with," Ballew said. "He has energized the whole team with his attitude and his willingness to contribute. He has brought several new ideas into the mix and the results are going to show. It is great to have people like him who are willing to assist your program. I wouldn't be able to continue racing it weren't for the help I am getting from him and Michael Warmack from Grupo Mundo who helps us with our sponsorship programs."

The Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway is scheduled for Saturday, July 19 at 9:00 ET. The event will be broadcast live by the Speed Channel and MRN Radio.

-bbm-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Skinner