Mike Skinner understands the varying degrees of emotion that NASCAR Winston Cup drivers confront on a weekly basis, but insists that his first-hand experience has taught him that keeping emotions in check is sometimes financially and mentally more rewarding.

"There's plenty of emotion out there - along with a lot of pressure to do well," Skinner, who is currently subbing for the injured Jerry Nadeau in the #01 US Army Pontiac, said of Saturday night's brawl involving Kevin Harvick and the #29 crew, "The cars are so equal now that it makes it difficult to pass. And when you have a pack of cars running close together, something is bound to happen, especially when it gets close to the end of the race.

"Aggressive and close racing usually leads to a few spin outs, and spin outs, as we have seen, can then lead to a not-so-friendly post-race behaviour. I know about this formula all too well - I've been there and paid the consequences. However, I've grown up enough to know that you cannot function that way in this business.

"Though I understand, at times, why drivers do what they do, volatile behaviour cannot be condoned. The recent altercations are probably selling more tickets and getting more media attention, but it's not professional. And if we're not too careful, we'll hurt this sport - which has been pretty darn good to all of us."

The 46-year old doesn't pretend to be a perfectly behaved driver - he admits past mistakes, but said he has learned from them.

"I was once fined $10,000 by NASCAR and that really got my attention - it woke me up," he recalled, "I let my emotions get the best of me, and I guess every driver has a story to tell when it comes to regretting a certain race-related action.

"I know what's happening out there right now, and I do not want to be judgmental about others. This is a learning process for some young drivers and time will hopefully heal the wounds and control the emotions."

Speaking of wounds and emotions, Skinner is hoping this weekend's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon will be less of a rollercoaster than he and the US Army team experienced at Richmond International Raceway last week.

In between two accidents in Friday's practice sessions, he won the pole for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 but, since the car he qualified could not be repaired at the track, a third car was brought to Richmond from the team's race shop, forcing Skinner to start the race from the back of the field.

"We learned a lot about being a team in Richmond," he commented, "We never said quit, never hung our heads and, each time we got knocked down, we got right back up. We came away with an 18th place finish in a car that we never had any practice time in. It wasn't a great finish, but it was respectable, considering what we had been through."