Research and development was the phrase of the day for six NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams which tested the 1.5-mile tri-oval at Kentucky Speedway.

Teams gathered information to prepare for a season-ending, 12-race stretch that features several intermediate tracks.

Bill Davis Racing drivers Kenny Wallace and Scott Wimmer, Evernham Motorsports veteran Bill Elliott, Joe Gibbs Racing Busch Series regular Mike Bliss, MB2 Motorsports super sub Mike Skinner, Petty Enterprises namesake Kyle Petty, and Hendrick Motorsports test specialist David Green were part of the session.

Skinner and Wimmer were potentially auditioning for full-time series rides in 2004.

Skinner, who was released from his Morgan-McClure Winston Cup contract following the June 8 race at Pocono, is wheeling the No. 01 Army Pontiac for MB2 Motorsports while primary driver Jerry Nadeau continues to mend his injuries.

Skinner authored his best performance through three starts in the No. 01 last week at Bristol when he started fourth and finished 18th. Skinner used the test to get better acquainted with the MB2 team.

"We've really only worked together for three races and we're still learning each other's language," Skinner said. "It's basically a 'get-to-know each other test' and we're learning some stuff that will help us."

He added that a string of strong performances in the No. 01 is important to his racing future.

"Every race is a little bit of an audition for every driver," Skinner said. "We've had a couple of years where injuries or the race team not being up to speed have been issues. It doesn't hurt to have good runs and show people you can still get the job done.

"We're working on a lot of things. Hopefully Jerry has a full recovery and can get back with this race team. In the event that doesn't happen, you never know, we might drive this. We'll wait to see what happens.

Wimmer, who enters the week ninth in the Busch series standings and riding a string of nine straight top-10 finishes under Davis, also may be in line for a full-time Winston Cup ride if Davis can secure sponsorship for a third series entry.

"We're pretty close to it," Wimmer said of a Winston Cup deal. "Sponsorship is dictating everything like it does in this sport. We have two great sponsors with Stacker 2 and Caterpillar, so hopefully we can find the third one for me and build on the success we'd have so far.

A second scenario might find Wimmer behind the wheel of the No. 22 Caterpillar car should Ward Burton vacate the seat.

"I'd love to drive for those guys (the Caterpillar team). It's a great race team, the Caterpillar car has a been a real good car and Frank Stoddard has done a lot of great things over there.

"I'm sitting on the other side of the road with my Busch program. I have a lot of great people over there that I don't want to particularly leave, but it's a weird sport. We'll have to see what happens. The next few months will be pretty interesting. I'm looking forward to moving my whole Busch team up and maybe getting another driver in for Ward's seat."

~ Kentucky Speedway ~