Inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Mike Skinner will make his first series start since 1998 in "The Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" on July 12 at Kentucky Speedway. Skinner will take command of the Billy Ballew Motorsports No. 15 VOKAL Clothing Racing Ford for driver Rich Bickle both this week and next week at Gateway International Speedway.

Skinner recently ended his relationship with Morgan McClure Motorsports, owners of the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet that races the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit. In 14 Winston Cup Series starts this season, Skinner did not finish in the top-10.

"Billy has asked me to come in and help evaluate his team for the next two events," Skinner said. "We plan to take a look at all the aspects of his operation and help the organization move forward. We will evaluate everything from the chassis to the engines to the team and even the driver. I am willing to do anything within my power to help Billy and crew chief Gary Showalter achieve their goals."

The VOKAL Racing team currently sits 15th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series owner's points standings. Ballew said he plans to examine every feasible alternative in order to provide the best possible competitive combination for his sponsor and team.

"We cannot sit here and spin our wheels," Ballew said. "I have the utmost respect for Rich Bickle as a person and as a driver. I am sure that all the problems we have experienced lately are not necessarily Rich's fault, but I had to address the concerns we had. I looked at all the options we had available to help us get back on track competitively. When you have the opportunity to bring in a former champion to help you, then I think you have to capitalize on that opportunity. Mike Skinner is a talented driver with great instincts with these truck chassis. He will be a tremendous asset to our team and he will help us get where we need to be from a competitive standpoint."

Skinner' owns 16 wins, 15 poles, 32 top-five finishes, 41 top-ten finishes in 50 career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts. He captured his 1995 series championship while driving for Richard Childress Racing. He has earned $1,082,780 in the series. He finished fifth in his last series start at California Speedway nearly five years ago.

"I love the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," Skinner said. "I still have a lot of friends in that garage area and I look forward to seeing them this weekend. Right now our plans are to run the next two races for Billy Ballew Motorsports and if we get a chance to run a few more, then that would be great, too."

"The Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" is slated for Saturday, July 12 at 8:00 p.m. The race will be broadcast live nationally on the Speed Channel and MRN Radio. Race action begins on Friday, July 11, with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying and the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series "Kentucky 150" on 700 WLW Pole Night. Visit http// for complete schedule and ticket information.

~ Kentucky Speedway ~