Waltrip Racing benches McDowell UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Mike Skinner will assist Michael Waltrip Racing in efforts to evaluate its 18-month-old full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program by racing the #00 Champion Mortgage Toyota Camry at Michigan International Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and California Speedway.
"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 A.J. Allmendinger earlier this year and our #00 Champion Mortgage team could use the same experienced insight."
"We feel the same way about Michael McDowell as we did when we signed him," Waltrip continued. "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."
Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Michael McDowell is scheduled to return to his seat at Richmond International Raceway. "I support doing whatever it takes to improve the performance of our team", said McDowell. "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 has been a part of the Toyota family since the manufacturer's entrance into NASCAR delivering seven Craftsman Truck Series victories, 31 pole awards, 41 top fives, 67 top 10s. With the division having a weekend off, Skinner is focused on repositioning the #00 Champion Mortgage Toyota Camry team in the top 35 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner's points standings during his assessment.
"Michael Waltrip and I have been friends for a long time and he asked me to run the #00 Champion Mortgage Toyota for a few races and give an evaluation," Skinner said. "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. I look forward to us working together." Michael Waltrip Racing
08/11/08 Mike Skinner is on the entry list for this weekend's 3M Performance 400 Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, where he will apparently replace Michael McDowell in the No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
McDowell, a rookie whose team is 36th in owner points, will temporarily be pulled from the car in a move similar to what Skinner did with AJ Allmendinger and Red Bull Racing earlier in the season.
Cal Wells, MWR executive vice president, said Sunday that McDowell could be removed from the car if it failed to get back into the top 35 in owner points at Watkins Glen. McDowell's 25th-place finish on Sunday left him eight points short of the 35th-place team of Allmendinger.
"If we choose to do that, it would be for two reasons," Wells said Sunday before the race. "One would be to evaluate the package itself, and the other would be to make sure we get in the shows. Not that McDowell can't bust a lap off - because he can - but anything's possible." More at Scenedaily.com