Skinner Back With RCR At Daytona

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WELCOME, N.C. - Mike Skinner will drive the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Chevrolet Monte Carlo at the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500.

The primary car for the effort is the former No. 90 Chevrolet that was last driven by John Andretti in the EA Sports 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (qualified 24th and finished 15th). The team will be led by RCR's General Manager, Bobby Hutchens, and NASCAR veteran crew chief Bobby Leslie and the crew will consist of RCR's research and development team. A sponsor announcement for the program will be forthcoming.

"We have planned all along to run an R&D car in the Daytona 500 and Mike has always been so good in the restrictor-plate races so it just made a lot of sense," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. "The program was already in the making when we put our deal together with Kerry Earnhardt so it's not something that will take the place of that program at all. Kerry will still be running those five races later this year. Mike has a great shot at winning the race. He's led some races and really finished good in our cars so we think he'll do great in our R&D car."

Skinner got his big break in major-league NASCAR racing in 1995 when he drove RCR's No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet 1500 in the inaugural season of the NASCAR Truck Series. He earned the series championship that season on the strength of eight wins and 18 top-10 finishes.

He finished third in 1996 with another eight wins and 20 top-10 finishes before moving to RCR's new No. 31 NASCAR Cup Series team for the 1997 season. He earned the pole position for the Daytona 500 that year, alongside RCR teammate Dale Earnhardt, and went on to earn the series' rookie of the year award and a NASCAR exhibition race in Suzuka, Japan.

Skinner won a number of non-points races with the team, including a second exhibition race in Japan, but after a leg injury in 2001 forced him to miss the final 10 races of the season, he and RCR parted ways.

Skinner raced for the No. 4 NASCAR Cup Series team in 2002 and ran partial schedules for that team and the No. 01 team in 2003 before announcing his NASCAR Trucks Series program at the end of the season. He will be again partnered with former RCR crew chief and current Fox Sports analyst Larry McReynolds, who is the architect of the No. 42 Truck Series team.

"This is an unbelievable opportunity," said Skinner. "Richard and I have maintained our friendship through all of our business dealings. We had a lot of success together, winning just about every non-points race that you can win. We parted company a couple years ago but we never parted our friendship and that's very special to me. Richard giving me this opportunity to help him and help me is just a tribute to that friendship and I think it really makes a statement."

Skinner will also be competing in the Feb. 7 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, driving the No. 10 Chevrolet, team car to the No. 01 Chevrolet he won the pole in last year for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

Boris Said also earned a pole in the No. 01 last year (Sonoma) and will drive the No. 10 in a number of races this season so Skinner is using the No. 10 for the pole-winners only event.

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