Friday, February 29, 2008

One In, One Out at Vegas

NASCAR’s new “knockout” qualifying format kept one Red Bull Toyota in Las Vegas for the weekend and sent the other home early.

Friday was the first time all of the go-or-go-home cars qualified at the end of the session, and it was Brian Vickers’ No. 83 earning the final spot available on speed with a lap at 179.826 mph. Vickers timed in 23rd overall but will start 43rd in Sunday’s UAW-Dodge 400 because the past champion's provisional was not used.

Teammate and No. 84 driver AJ Allmendinger wasn’t so lucky. He was the first driver to miss the cut despite qualifying 33rd with a lap at 178.026 mph.

With finishes of 12th and 11th in the season’s first two races, the No. 83 sits 11th in the always-critical car owner standings. But qualifying, as usual, was gut-wrenching, and it’ll be that way until the No. 83 works its way into the top 35 come the sixth race at Martinsville.

“It’s definitely still agonizing until you’re locked in,” Vickers said. “It doesn’t really matter where you’re in the points.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Speed To Tackle Trucks

The developmental path has led Scott Speed to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. A full season in ARCA is one thing, but now Speed gets a turn behind the wheel of Morgan-Dollar Motorsports’ No. 46 truck.

Speed will go from truck racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 7) to creeping along, bumping and grinding for position at Martinsville Speedway (March 29). Normally, he drives the No. 2 for Eddie Sharp Racing in ARCA — a series that that races on everything from Illinois dirt to Alabama asphalt. But ARCA doesn’t race at Atlanta, arguably the fastest 1.5-mile track in NASCAR Sprint Cup.

ARCA doesn’t race again until April 13, at the short track in Salem, Ind.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sampling of Speed

From fashion to travel to what he describes as a “methodical” driving style, Scott Speed is unique. And never does Scott Speed the individual shine through more than on Sirius Satellite Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.”
Every Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET (Sirius channel 128), Speed trades banter with co-hosts Steve Post and Chocolate Myers. If you missed Speed’s first few rounds on “Tradin’ Paint,” visit our audio section at for the complete segments. Here’s a sampling of Speed:

On Red Bull: “I have Red Bull in my blood. We just fit so good together.”

On action sports: “When I do something like snowboarding or an extreme sport, because it’s not something I’m used to doing I get a huge adrenaline rush from it. It’s like I’m a 13-year-old kid trying to set the world on fire again.”

On a recent trip to the Dominican Republic: “I have to say it’s been a very intense experience. It’s a very interesting culture, for sure. For example, when we arrived at our hotel Sunday night around 1:30 in the morning, we were downstairs at the casino. And along with the 15 or so hookers that were downstairs there was a guy rolling right past us with a gun in his hand … as he puts it in the back of his pants. I thought that was an extreme introduction to this culture.”

On the Daytona 500: “Normally, I was the one doing the racing. I’ve never been to watch a big race like that. To hang in hospitality and watch it from a spectator point of view, it was amazing. It was an awesome race as well. With Red Bull, we always have a good time, and Daytona was no exception.”

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Hell with Rain

Rainouts suck — there’s no other way to put it. But if there’s any consolation, the guys back in Mooresville, N.C., got to see all the Monday action unfold leading up to Brian Vickers’ 11th-place finish in the Auto Club 500.

High above the main floor in Red Bull Racing Team’s shop hangs a 52-inch flat-screen TV, which was perfect for a day like today. A couple of weeks ago, there was a group of men who knew a lot about cable and TVs hovering around race cars. They hung it, connected all the wires and now a generous TV keeps the shop guys in tune with the at-track guys.

Half of those interested hung around chassis Nos. 20 and 23, looking above. The rest made their way into the break room. Either way, they saw Red Bull Racing Team’s No. 83 post an 11th-place finish.

Moments later, there were a few high-fives and the occasional chest bump, but it was back to work. After all, Sin City is waiting.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Driver Demographics

Random thought during a red flag in Fontana …

Urban legend once had it that all stock car drivers came from North Carolina. These days, even with the influx of West Coast drivers and international open-wheelers, the Tar Heel State is still well represented at the Sprint Cup level.

An unofficial tally revealed that there are 45 full-time drivers, loosely defined as drivers who intend to run most — if not all — of 36-race schedule. Of those 45, four come from North Carolina, including Red Bull Racing Team’s own driver of the No. 83, Thomasville’s Brian Vickers. He’s joined by fellow North Carolinians Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis), Kyle Petty (Randleman) and Scott Riggs (Bahama).

California, home of No. 84 driver AJ Allmendinger, tops list with seven. The state-by-state breakdown:

1. California: 7
2. North Carolina: 4
3. Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Virginia, Wisconsin, foreign countries: 3
4. Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio, Washington: 2
5. Arkansas, Arizona, Kansas, New Jersey, New York, Texas: 1

Friday, February 22, 2008

And So The Rains Came Down...

…sending the 84 crew packing from California Speedway. Lots of descriptive words were flying through the hauler to express just how it feels to be robbed of the opportunity to qualify the Red Bull Toyota into Sunday’s race. Probably the most appropriate words we can share would be “brutal,” “painful,” and “unbelievable.” NASCAR rain-out rules had the 84 crew missing out by just 1 spot. So close, but no dice. On the bright side – NASCAR rules luckily blessed the 83 crew into the race so they can build on their successful race runs. Tune in Sunday on FOX at 3:30 PM (EST) to cheer on BV and the 83 Bull Crew.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Zing, Then The Sting

Aaron Schields took one for the team, and he has a bruised butt cheek to prove it.

As the front tire carrier on Red Bull Racing Team’s No. 83, Schields was attending to possible nose damage in the late stages of Sunday’s Daytona 500. If there’s a problem, it’s Schields’ job to help fix it. So he got low — really low — right in the line of fire of stray lug nuts that litter pit road.

Unfolding ahead was the service of Casey Mears’ Chevrolet, and when the No. 5 went down and away, Mears lit up the rear tires. The burning rubber grabbed a lug nut that was done for the day, but in the lug nut’s flight pattern was Schields’ rear end.

Getting capped in the ankle or shin is one thing. That’s a common occurrence on pit road, but getting shot in the butt is a whole different deal.

We’ll let Schields go into further detail.

“When you’re out there, the adrenaline is pumping. But I felt it,” Schields said. “Oh yeah, I felt it. You try to walk it off, try to be tough. It was one of those awkward moments.”

The lug nut, Schields admitted, left a mark about the size of a half dollar, but … “I went about my business and got the job done.”

Indeed he did, evidenced by the No. 83's 12th-place finish in the 500.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nationwide on Brian’s Side

Red Bull Racing Team’s Brian Vickers makes no bones about which car he prefers to drive, so Saturday’s season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona gave Vickers a break from one adventurous week — one that saw him solo skydive and two days later race his way into the Daytona 500.

“It was like Darlington out there, just sliding around in those Nationwide cars,” Vickers said after finishing fourth. Listen to him talk all about it in our audio section at (click here).

Vickers, driving Braun Racing’s No. 10 Toyota, ran in the top 10 all afternoon. He was leading in the final laps before fellow Toyota drivers Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch teamed up and roared past. But a top five will do, especially when it comes the day before the 50th running of the Daytona 500 — the first time Sprint Cup’s new cars will race for points at Daytona.

Vickers’ No. 83 will roll of 23rd when the green flag waves at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Engine Edition

Ahhh … There’s nothing like the screaming, eardrum-popping sound of engine-change day.

Even the untrained ear can tell big things are happening here in the Daytona garage. In stall No. 2 sits Red Bull Racing Team’s No. 83, and it’s quite a different automobile compared to the piece Brian Vickers drove in Thursday’s qualifying race.

Already changed is the 850-horsepower TRD motor, a luxury NASCAR affords all teams because of the abuse, stress and general nastiness engines endured during previous practices and the Duel’s 150 miles. They are fired, re-fired and revved to point where making small talk 50 yards away is nearly impossible. Also changed is the transmission and rear end.

“It’s open game at the moment,” car chief Craig Smokstad said.

Today’s one and only practice begins at 1:40 p.m. ET, not long before Vickers hops into Braun Racing’s No. 10 Nationwide Series car for two laps of qualifying.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Air Up There

A tandem skydive jump just isn’t Brian Vickers’ style. He wanted to free fall on his own — and so he did.

The driver of Red Bull Racing Team’s No. 83 completed his first solo skydive Tuesday under the guidance of the Red Bull Air Force, a group of air-savvy professionals who know a thing or two about “aero push.”

Vickers took a required Accelerated Free Fall class and spent the first part of the day at a specialized wind tunnel in Orlando, Fla., simulating the forces he felt in the sky. After the class, Vickers jumped out of a perfectly safe airplane all by himself above DeLand, Fla.

You can watch Vickers experience the ride of his life, as the jump will be part of ESPN’s coverage of Saturday’s Nationwide Series race.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Planning Far in Advance

We all know the Daytona 500 is big, but there are 35 more races after the season in itself called Speedweeks. Points carry as much weight in the dog days of summer as they do in February.

To make sure Red Bull Racing Team is prepared for life after Daytona, the boys in Mooresville, N.C., are working overtime to get cars ready for places like California and Las Vegas — races two and three on the Sprint Cup schedule.

“We’re thrashing in here,” said Keith Koldsbaek, who’s a small part in the large process of building a Sprint Cup car.

Over the next seven days, Red Bull Racing Team will have completed 11 cars that have nothing to do with Daytona — four for California, two more for Las Vegas, another four for a test at Phoenix and one bringing up the rear for a test at Nashville.

And that just gets us through the beginning of March.

You always hear drivers Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger thanking “the guys back at the shop.” Well, they deserve a little thanks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Qualifying Pole Day, Simply Put

The long-awaited Daytona 500 Pole Day is now upon us. Daytona qualifying is by far the most confusing qualifying session of the year. Simply put, the purpose of today's qualifying session is to lock in the front row for the Daytona 500 (a week from today), and to establish the starting orders for Thursday's Gatorade Duels. The fastest car earns the pole for the Daytona 500 and the pole for the first Gatorade Duel race. The second-fastest car earns the outside pole for the Daytona 500 and the pole for the second Gatorade Duel race. The two duel races are 150-miles qualifying races that will set positions 3-39 for the 500.

Confused yet?

Here is the simple version of how the Daytona 500 lineup is set:
- Spots 1 & 2: The pole sitter & outside pole sitter from today's Pole qualifying
- Spots 3-39: The top-35 in '07 car owners points and two highest finishing teams in each Gatorade Duel races race NOT in the top 35 set by their finishing postion in the Gatorade Duel races.
- Spots 40-42: The fastest qualifiers not already qualified in
- Spot 43: Past champion provisional

Qualifying begins this afternoon at 1:15 PM EST. Brian takes to the track 27th, and AJ goes out 43rd.

Friday, February 08, 2008

BV Pulling Double Duty

Vickers is pulling double duty again racing both a full-time schedule in the Sprint Cup Series and a limited run in the Nationwide Series with Braun Racing. BV's Nationwide ride has him piloting the No. 10 and No. 32 Camry’s sharing seat time with fellow Toyota drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Now that's a stellar lineup...anyone smell a trip to Victory Lane? BV's back again with crew chief Trent Owens and will suit up for Braun Racing's partners Dollar General and also ABF Freight Systems. Here’s a rundown of when to set your tube to watch BV on ESPN’s Nationwide Series (no more Busch) broadcast:

2/16 Daytona
3/1 Vegas
3/8 Atlanta
4/5 Ft. Worth
5/24 Charlotte
7/4 Daytona
8/16 Michigan
8/22 Bristol
8/30 Fontana
9/5 Richmond
9/27 Kansas
10/10 Charlotte
11/1 Ft Worth

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Destination: Daytona 500

Moments from now, Red Bull Racing Team’s two transporters will creep through the gate and down Knob Hill Road toward Interstate 77, the first few feet in the long journey that is Speedweeks at Daytona.

These trucks are carrying important passengers, too. Let us introduce the cars that you’ll come to know and love between now and the Feb. 17 Daytona 500.

Aboard the No. 83 rests RBRT041 and RBRT049, the prior serving as Brian Vickers’ primary car entering Saturday’s two practice sessions and Sunday’s qualifying. RBRT041 stands a tad under four and a half feet tall and weighs 3,450 pounds. At the top of its list of hobbies is “driving fast,” which it did last month during testing at Daytona with the fourth-fastest lap in single-car runs.

The No. 84 is carrying RBRT050 and RBRT048. AJ Allmendinger’s primary car was also fast last month and owns the same physical traits as his teammate’s ride, but there’s something else about this machine. Maybe that it’s chassis No. 50, and this is the 50th running of the Daytona 500.

First on-track action: Two hours of practice beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET Saturday.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Speed Gets SIRIUS

Scott Speed is letting loose on the airwaves! Speed signed on for a weekly guest spot on SIRIUS Satellite Radio's “Trading Paint” with co-hosts Steve Post and Chocolate Myers. They’re not just talking racing – they’re talking the dish , the scoop, the drama on Scott. Who’s he hanging out with, who his newest NASCAR buddies are, where’s he traveling, and what Red Bull events he's popping up on the scene. Tomorrow's topic: his weekend trip to Appalachian Ski Resort to watch the snowboarding competition, "Shred for the Cup." Tune in every Tuesday at 2 PM (EST) on SIRIUS NASCAR Channel 128.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Picks Are In

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and Red Bull Racing Team’s crack staff of NFL prognosticators weigh in on the big game between the New England Patriots (minus 12) and New York Giants:

Mike Metcalf, No. 84 catch can man, played running back for two seasons at FCS power Appalachian State. No way the Patriots go 19-0. “The Giants win 24-21, only because professionals play with a lot of pride. It’s a joke to the NFL that one team can beat everybody. Those days are over. The Giants will beat them.”

Artie Kalos, general counsel, resident Bostonian and small college defensive back, loves his hometown Patriots 37-21. “They’re the greatest team in history. No stopping them now.”

No. 84 driver AJ Allmendinger, still bitter about the Green Bay Packers’ early exit from the playoffs, could care less. “I’m boycotting the Super Bowl. My Packers lost, so I don’t care who wins. I hate the Patriots, but the Giants beat my Packers. Hopefully it will end in a tie and nobody wins.”

Jay Frye, general manager and vice president, played four college seasons at Missouri. He likes the underdog. “I think the Giants are going to win. I think they are going to win straight up. I’d take them and the points right now.”

Bull Rider, just because I can, says the Giants win 26-19.

Note — For entertainment purposes only.

Friday, February 01, 2008

They Keep Going and Going

Red Bull Racing Team’s No. 83 clicked off 232 laps during January’s test session at Daytona. The No. 84 was on track for 265 laps. Between the two Red Bulls, that’s 1,242.5 miles worth of single-lap runs and drafting.

Onto Las Vegas, where the No. 83 — give or take a few — put in 167 laps of work. The counter went to about 188 for the No. 84. That’s another 532.5 miles at an intermediate track, and more than 600 miles can be expected to come out of California tonight when preseason testing wraps up. For California speeds, click here.

Preparations are just about over. Next week, it’s for real. Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger take to the track Feb. 9 at 10:30 a.m. ET for the first of two practices before Daytona 500 qualifying (Feb. 10, 1:15 p.m. ET).