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Thu, 1 Dec 2005, 11:37 AM

Skull Gear Extends Dart Pro Stock Sponsorship
Courtesy of Rick Voegelin

TROY, Mich. -- Skull Gear will continue its sponsorship of the Dart Pro Stock team through the 2006 season. Evan Knoll, owner of Skull Gear and Torco Race Fuels, made the announcement that the Dart Pro Stock Cobalt owned by Richard Maskin and driven by Rickie Smith will carry the Skull Gear logo in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

"They provide a quality representation of our Skull Gear brand and I'm eager to be teamed up with them for 2006 and possibly beyond," said Knoll. "You never know what can happen in this class. I am very happy with what they provided for us this season."

"It's great to go into the 2006 season with our Skull Gear sponsorship confirmed," said Smith. "We have a great relationship with Skull Gear and Torco, and with Evan Knoll's support I believe we can win races and contend for the championship.

"At the start of the 2005 season, we weren't even sure whether we'd race," Smith explained. "Then when we stepped up the program last summer, we had very respectable results. We were competitive and we qualified at every race we went to except one - and that's a real accomplishment in a class as tough as Pro Stock.

"We hadn't done any development over the winter, so we had to catch up with the pack," Smith noted. "This year is different: Richard and the Dart engine shop are going at it hard this winter to find more power, and we'll have several test sessions in Florida to work on the car. We know we're definitely going to race in 2006, everyone has a positive attitude, and that helps a lot."

The Skull Gear Dart Pro Stock team acquired a transporter from V. Gaines, and the rig is being outfitted in preparation for the first preseason test in Gainesville, Fla., on Dec. 6.

"We're continuing our relationship with David Reher and Reher-Morrison Racing Engines as we develop the DRCE3 engine," Maskin revealed. "We're also testing one of our race engines on Bob Glidden's dyno to establish a baseline that we can use to compare our power. We still have a few issues with the car setup, and we'll focus on solving those over the winter."

Maskin will conduct a seminar on engine technology at the upcoming Performance Racing Industry trade show in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 2. The championship-winning engine builder will discuss how technology transfer has benefited sportsman racers through the development of Dart cylinder heads and engine blocks.

"We're truly bringing Pro Stock technology to the sportsmen," said Maskin. "For example, we're going to show racers how they can optimize their valvetrains to allow their engines to run reliably at high rpm. We're also going to introduce our new Dart billet aluminum blocks that will revolutionize the speed equipment industry."

Testing will resume after the holidays as the Skull Gear Dart Pro Stock team prepares for the season-opening NHRA CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., on Feb. 9-12, 2006.

"Shortly after the New Year, we'll test again in Florida," said Smith. "We'll test in Las Vegas during the last week in January and we'll run the Super Bowl race. There's no off-season if you're going to compete at this level. You have to stay after it all the time."

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