Saturday, May 31, 2008

Scott Conquers Dover

Take care of the feet that take care of you. Maybe Scott Speed’s pedicure before Friday’s Craftsman Truck race wasn’t such a bad idea.

“He told me when he got on the plane that he had his toes painted and that they feel better than they ever did and that he thought he would have better throttle control,” joked Doug Wolcott, Scott’s crew chief at Bill Davis Racing. “That’s what let us pull away at the end.”

Indeed, Scott had the tips of his toenails painted blue, but it was a two-tire stop late in the race that helped send the Red Bull driver to victory lane in the AAA Insurance 200 — his first start at rugged Dover International Speedway. Driving BDR’s No. 22 Red Bull Toyota, Scott ran away from the field after a late restart to become the series’ third consecutive first-time winner.

He celebrated by stopping along the frontstretch to acknowledge the crowd and his crew, and he followed up with a series of unusual facial expressions while posing with the winner’s trophy. But then again, Scott’s a little unusual.

“I can’t take anything serious. Victory celebration … I was just goofing off,” Scott said. “As far as the toe nails, you’ve obviously never experienced the joy of having someone take care of your feet. It was quite amazing, actually. My feet were very soft, very beautiful for my standards. Don’t knock it till you try it.”

The winning moment came on lap 133, when the No. 22 gained valuable track position with a two-tire stop. He blew past Todd Bodine for the lead on lap 150, kept Ron Hornaday at bay and eventually beat Jack Sprague to the finish line by more than three seconds.

“My hats off to the team. They’re really the ones that won this race,” Scott said. “I’m pretty confident that anyone in this truck at the last 50 laps after the pit stop would have done exactly the same thing. I’m having the time of my life just coming over here and trying to learn this sport. It’s awesome, and Red Bull is giving me an incredible opportunity to do this. Without them, none of this would have been possible.”

Scott returns to ARCA and Eddie Sharp Racing’s No. 2 Red Bull Toyota for the June 7 race at Pocono. His next truck start comes June 14 at Michigan.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Now the Grind Really Begins

Twelve races in and with June right around the corner, the dog days of summer are nearly here.

The Sprint Cup Series is beginning one of the more unenviable stretches of the 36-race season. This weekend it’s Dover. The next is Pocono. The one after that is Michigan.

Hardly anyone looks forward to visiting these venues, but “this is when you separate the men from the boys,” said Elton Sawyer, the competition director at Red Bull Racing Team. “The 83 is still right there. They are 21st in points, but they are in contention. We’re optimistic and excited about our cars. They’ve shown a lot of speed and have been competitive. The 83 can make a run to get in the Chase. That’s a legitimate goal for those guys. The 84 guys are making some strides. We still need to get better and get that car in the top 35, but the team as a whole is improving.

“Yes, the next couple of months, June and July, is the grind. It’s really important to be well prepared.”

The two Red Bull Toyotas were near the top of the speed charts throughout Friday’s practice at one-mile Dover International Speedway. They’ll qualify for the Best Buy 400 at 3:10 p.m. ET.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

DC Goes to Dover!

Red Bull Racing’s F1 driver David Coulthard will be heading out early to North America prior to the Canadian Grand Prix to pay a visit to Red Bull Racing Team. The weekend before the F1 race in Montreal sees the NASCAR boys racing in Dover, Delaware.

"I’m interested in all sorts of racing, but hardly ever get a chance to see anything other than Formula 1. So when Red Bull came up with the idea of shooting a promo film around their NASCAR operation on the week before the Canadian GP, it seemed like a great opportunity to go and see why this form of racing is so popular in the States."

DC arrives in time for race day, when he will get a chance to sit in BV's race car, and listen in on the team’s pre-race engineering briefing, before watching the "Best Buy 400." We’re not sure if DC will stay to the very end - that’s over twice the distance of the following weekend’s Formula 1 Grand Prix!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Marco, Danica or Dixon?

Who will take home the Borg-Warner trophy (above)? Red Bull Racing Team’s panel of motorsports experts predict the winner of Sunday’s 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

AJ Allmendinger, No. 84 driver, says Scott Dixon. The ex-Champ Car driver keeps abreast on the daily happenings at Indy. “I miss it,” he said. “I have friends over there.” Not to mention Dixon is on the pole.

Kevin Hamlin, No. 83 crew chief, says Marco Andretti. Kevin put on his specs, glared at the 33-car grid and the name just came to him.

Rick Viers, No. 84 crew chief, says Justin Wilson. Only because Wilson was AJ’s teammate in Champ Car.

Jay Frye, VP and general manager, says Marco Andretti. The boss goes with the Andretti who just missed winning in 2006.

Elton Sawyer, competition director, says Danica Patrick. He may be trying to earn a few points with his wife, former NASCAR driver Patty Moise.

John Probst, technical director, says Scott Dixon. John knows a thing or two about open-wheel racing. He once was program manager for Ford Racing Technology’s Champ Car campaign.

At Lowe’s: Saturday’s a busy day. Sprint Cup has two practice sessions (2:45 and 6 p.m. ET) before the Nationwide Series race at 7:30. Check out Brian Vickers in Braun Racing’s No. 10 Toyota.

At Mansfield: Driving Bill Davis Racing’s No. 22 Toyota, Scott Speed starts sixth in the Craftsman Truck race at the half-mile oval (1 p.m., Speed).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spending the Day with Red Bull

Random observations from Red Bull Racing Team’s first Fan & Family Appreciation Day on a glorious Friday afternoon in Race City U.S.A.:

+ Via an informal, off-the-top-of-your-head poll, attendance came in at 500-600. More would have showed had it not been for a dump truck pulling up lame on I-77 north during lunch hour traffic.

+ Reportedly, the first fans arrived before 6 a.m., armed as if Hannah Montana tickets were going on sale sometime soon. But our autograph tickets weren’t being distributed for two more hours.

+ Raffle items included framed artwork, autographed diecasts of the Nos. 83 and 84, hats, T-shirts and, perhaps most unique, crew shirts. Each crew shirt donned the John Hancocks of the two Bull Crews.

+ The on-site Bull Shop was bustling long after Fan Appreciation Day ended at 2 p.m. Should be a nice score!

+ Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger arrived in the two-seat Red Bull show car. Both are like Jedi Knights with a Sharpie and accommodated everyone and their items in an efficient 60 minutes.

+ Deliver fuel or rip through some lug nuts on the No. 83 … whatever the choice, the experts were there to help. Since the Pit Crew Challenge, our crewmen have become celebrities within the industry.

+ Fans could enter the main shop and view Red Bull Toyotas in various stages of construction.

+ The Red Bull Albatross seaplane made an appearance in the skies overhead and touched down safely in the Lake Norman waters to the south.

+ The frozen cups filled with a Red Bull sorbet-type thing hit the spot on a hot day.

+ Proudly on display were AJ’s Sprint Showdown trophy and the No. 83 team’s $70,675 check for winning the Pit Crew Challenge.

+ Front parking lot cleared by 3:48 p.m.

600 blurb: On Thursday night, Brian qualified third and AJ 27th. Saturday holds two practice sessions (2:45 and 6 p.m. ET) before Sunday’s green flag.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back to Business

Life’s been a little different for AJ Allmendinger since he capped off Red Bull Racing Team’s winning week with a victory in the Sprint Showdown.

Reality, however, quickly set in.

“It all starts again,” AJ said. “Got to qualify to get in the show.”

AJ’s No. 84 Red Bull Toyota sits 40th in the owner standings, still 170 points out of the top 35. But he’s taken a liking to 1.5-mile Lowe’s Motor Speedway, where his career-best finish of 15th came in fall 2007.

Teammate Brian Vickers, one of four North Carolina-born drivers entered in NASCAR’s longest race, is 17th in points, with the Chase’s final spot only 105 points away. Brian led 76 laps and earned the team’s first top-five finish in last year’s 600.

Thursday’s lone 90-minute practice is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET. Qualifying for 48 cars is set for 7:10 p.m.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Win's a Win

The self-proclaimed “king of the non-points races,” Mike Skinner knows exactly what a win on All-Star night can do for a driver’s confidence. He won a heat race before the 1999 Winston Open.

“It’s still a Sprint Cup race. It doesn’t matter if it pays points or not. You still had to race some really good guys,” Skinner said, referring to AJ Allmendinger’s victory in the Sprint Showdown.

For five races in March and April, the veteran Skinner occupied AJ’s No. 84 Red Bull Toyota as the team righted the ship. AJ returned at Talladega and three weeks later earned his first trip to victory lane Saturday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

“The thing that impressed me the most about that win was his maturity, where Ricky (Viers) put it on him if they wanted to pit or stay out,” Skinner noted. “The kid made the choice to stay out, knowing his car wasn’t perfect but clean air was very important. That showed a lot of maturity.”

Back to Skinner’s “king” claim. Maybe he’s right. Along with the 1999 non-points win at LMS, Skinner owns hardware from the 1999 Bud Shootout qualifier, 2001 qualifying race at Daytona and the 1997 and ’98 exhibition events in Japan.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fan & Family Appreciation Day!

Red Bull Racing Team is hosting the first-ever Red Bull Racing Team Fan & Family Appreciation Day on Friday, May 23rd. Fans are invited to visit the Mooresville, NC race shop from 10 AM - 2 PM. Special activities include Red Bull's signature "flying buffet" catering, an open-bar (virgin style), DJ Arthur Brouthers, pit stop practice with the 2008 Pit Crew Challenge winners, No. 83 and No. 84 show car displays, enjoy a special discount on team gear in the Bull Shop, and the chance to win Fan Day prizes including two passes to the Red Bull Energy Station for this weekend's race.

BV and AJ will be signing autographs from Noon - 1 PM. Tickets for the autograph session will be available in the main lobby of RBRT starting at 8 AM on Friday, May 23, and will be limited to the first 400 fans.

Red Bull Racing Team is located at 136 Knob Hill Road, Mooresville, NC 28117. From I-77 North, take Exit 36. Turn left off the exit. Turn left onto Rolling Hill Road. Turn right onto Knob Hill Road.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


AJ Allmendinger never needed the go-for-broke attitude in the Sprint Showdown. The No. 84 Red Bull Toyota was that good and so, too, was the driver.

With a berth into Saturday night’s All-Star Race on the line, AJ was at his best. He fought double-file restarts and led the final 19 laps of the second 20-lap segment in earning Red Bull Racing Team’s first victory of any kind at the NASCAR Sprint Cup level.

“I feel like I won the Daytona 500,” AJ, still sweating, told reporters. “Nobody understands how much this means to me after what we went through as a team. These guys — everybody at Red Bull Racing Team and Toyota — they’ve stuck behind me.”

The Red Bull Toyotas dominated the Showdown. AJ’s No. 84, after starting fourth, led 21 laps and maintained decisive track position when opting not to pit between segments. Brian Vickers’ No. 83 paced the other 19 laps before finishing fourth.

AJ’s voice erupted on the radio as the checkered flag waved, and his teammates poured onto pit road in celebration. Some chased AJ to his car and the winner’s circle. Others began preparing for the All-Star Race.

Through a flurry of photographs, answering questions about hard-charging second-place finisher Sam Hornish Jr. and a sprint to driver introductions, somehow all AJ wanted to know is if his hat looked OK.

“Man, I wanted to win,” he said. “I thought if (Hornish) gets there and gets under you don’t be stupid and try to race him hard and possibly wreck. But don’t just give in to him. He was really cool and could have forced the issue.”

The All-Star Race was a bonus. AJ finished 17th in an uneventful, caution-free race. But bigger things were at stake. Like next week’s 600-miler. The LMS notebook is a little heavier now that the No. 84 has seen day and night in the month of May.

“We definitely learned a lot about what the race track might do,” AJ said. “We’ll assess what we learned and make those adjustments coming back for the 600. It all starts again, got to qualify to get in the show. It’s a long race.”

AJ’s victory capped off quite a week for Red Bull Racing Team. On Thursday, the No. 83 Bull Crew claimed the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Checkers or Wreckers?

The calm, level-headedness of No. 84 crew chief Rick Viers is in stark contrast to the personality of his driver, AJ Allmendinger. The two share a common goal — transfer into the All-Star Race through tonight’s Sprint Showdown — but have differing opinions on how to get there.

“Under our conditions, we need to qualify well and run well and not worry about balls out, the no-matter-what type of attitude,” Viers said. “If we’re on the last lap racing for the lead, that’s different. But right now, we’ve got to complete the race and get as much information for the 600 as we can, because that’s what’s really important.”

AJ, when asked the same question, shot back: “Run hard and either get in or wreck big.”

Brian Vickers accomplished the feat in question in 2005, when he sent Mike Bliss spinning in the closing laps of the last-chance race. Brian went on. Bliss went home.

“I don’t know about the win or wreck part,” Brian said. “Obviously, it’s an all-out situation with winner take all. I don’t know if I want to wreck big. Wrecking big in this sport is not very fun.”

For tonight’s 40-lap Sprint Showdown (7:30 p.m. ET), Brian’s No. 83 Red Bull Toyota rolls off outside of polesitter Elliott Sadler, with AJ’s No. 84 tucked in behind in fourth. The All-Star race follows not long after.

Speed blurb: “Transmission” is listed as the culprit that knocked Scott Speed out of Friday night’s Craftsman Truck race at LMS. He kept flirting with the top 10 and reached it at lap 100. The knockout came seven laps later. No rest for Scott, though. An ARCA race awaits Sunday in Toledo, Ohio, where he starts fourth.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Fastest and the Furious

Mistake free and fast — a lethal combination no crew could contend with when it went against the No. 83 team Thursday night.

The seven men who service Brian Vickers’ Red Bull Toyota didn’t earn a single penalty in churning out five straight stops under 23 seconds to win the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge, as well as the first-place prize of $70,675. And then there’s that little thing called bragging rights.

“Consistency breeds the speed,” said Greg Miller, Red Bull Racing Team’s pit crew coach. “When you get consistent, smooth and you don’t have to go back and make up for things you did wrong … that’s our whole philosophy, be consistent and we’ll be fast.”

The No. 83 team’s slowest time of the night (22.902 seconds) was fast enough in the finals against the No. 11 crew of Joe Gibbs Racing, which came in .109 of a second behind at 23.011. The event record entering the night was 23.35 seconds.

As soon as the car crossed the finish line, the team erupted in celebration and the Red Bull began flowing. There was a hint of Red Bull in the air during the victory lane trophy presentation that went to Brian Haaland (front changer), Aaron Schields (front carrier), Danny Kincaid (rear changer), Jake Brzozowski (rear carrier), Shaun Peet (jack man and team captain), Doug Newell (gas man) and Mike Metcalf (catch can).

“Tremendous athletes,” Vickers said. “They were awesome tonight. So focused. These guys are the best at what they do. This is when it counted, and it meant a lot to them. I’m proud of them.”

In the final two rounds, the full-time crewmen, after completing their individual tasks at four separate stations in the so-called slow lane, converged on the car and made up ground in the decisive 40-yard push thanks to sound strategy by strength coach Ben Cook. “We had the legs when it counted,” Schields said.

The victory gives the No. 83 team its choice of pit boxes for Saturday night’s Sprint Showdown at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, but only if Vickers manages to race his way into the all-star event through the Open.

“We’re pretty confident our driver will get us into that deal. All the pressure is on him,” Peet said, smiling at Vickers.

Listen to the guys talk about their championship night in our audio section at

First round
83 (22.760) def. 8 (32.975)
Second round
83 (22.572) def. 20 (22.995)
83 (22.655) def. 88 (23.569)
83 (22.865) def. 29 (27.945)
83 (22.902) def. 11 (23.011)

It's All About the Kids

Mixing cement, spreading mulch, sawing boards and digging waist-deep holes was, as Shaun Peet described, “like a day off.”

Maybe it was a getaway from the physical hardships that come with being a Red Bull Racing Team pit crew member. But it was all about the greater good, as both Bull Crews participated in Wednesday’s playground build that was part of the NASCAR Day celebration.

In conjunction with The Home Depot and KaBOOM!, the crewmen of the Nos. 83 and 84 and several NASCAR personalities constructed a playground at the Elon Home for Children in Charlotte, N.C. You name it, and they had it — everything from climbing walls and nets to slides and swings.

“It’s fun. We don’t get to do enough of this stuff,” said Aaron Schields, the front tire carrier on the No. 83. “It makes you feel good for the day, knowing you’re doing something that helps a lot of children.”

Hear pit crew coach Greg Miller talk about the playground build in our audio section at

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Make a Call for Charity

“Thanks for calling the NASCAR Day telethon. This is Brian Vickers. How can I help you?”

Fans will have a chance to speak to their favorite drivers — Brian and teammate AJ Allmendinger included — as some of NASCAR’s biggest names help answer phones during the first NASCAR Day telethon on Friday.

By calling 1-888-May16th (1-888-629-1684) and making a donation, fans will be helping the 30-plus driver, team and track charities that the NASCAR Foundation supports. Mention Brian or AJ, and 100 percent of your donation will go directly to their designated charity. Last year, NASCAR Day raised more than $1.3 million.

The telethon will run all day from the Sam Bass Gallery in Concord, N.C. SIRIUS Satellite Radio will go live from the event starting at 7 a.m. ET, and Speed TV will do live cut-ins throughout the day.

AJ will answer phones from 9-10 a.m.; Brian from 3-3:40 p.m.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vote For Your Favorite Red Bull Driver!

The All-Star Race is May 17 and there's only two ways for BV and AJ to make it into the show!

Option 1: Race their way in.
Option 2: Win the Fan Vote!
BV raced his way into the '05 All-Star race so he's pretty confident he can pull it off again. The No. 83 put on quite a show at Lowe's Motor Speedway last spring, earning the team's first top-five finish. The 2008 season has seen some impressive runs by the No. 83, earning another top-five and sitting pretty 18th in points. Despite the strong chances of BV racing his way in, it still doesn't hurt to vote for BV!

If you've been tuning into SPEED TV, you've surely seen AJ's shameless plugs for getting fan votes. He's been using Misty, his 10-week old yellow lab puppy, to entice fans to vote for him. One of his favorite lines, "Vote for me! If you don't like me, that's ok, just vote for me because you like my dog!" So for all you AJ fans, send in your vote!

VOTE NOW by visiting or by texting the word "NASCAR" to "7777" on your Sprint or NEXTEL phone.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Racing the Lady in Black

It’s tight! It’s loose! It’s tight…again! If you were listening to Brian Vickers on the radio Saturday night, you surely stopped counting the number of times he was fighting with the handling on his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota. Vickers kept on keeping on even after The Lady in Black’s countless attempts to end his day. Vickers list includes a soon-to-be flat tire that sent him in for an early pit stop, a heavy blow from the No. 12 car as the No. 83 was entering its pit, and finally, more than just a Darlington stripe when the No. 83 hit the wall in Turn 4. Vickers finished his night in 25th and remains 17th in overall points.

AJ Allmendinger was dealing with a tight car all race long, but kept his No. 84 Red Bull Toyota out of the wall and out of trouble – well, out of trouble that he could control. Midway through the race, the No. 84 lost its clutch, challenging the driver and Bull Crew to play it smart and careful each time they left the pits. Like his teammate, Allmendinger also had a tire going down and made the right call to change it out before disaster could strike. The No. 84 took the checkered in the 27th position, holding on to 40th in the overall standings.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

You’re the Best, Mom

Ramona Vickers hasn’t missed her son race on Mother’s Day weekend since Brian broke into the Nationwide Series in 2002. Six years later, Ramona, with Brian at her side, will walk the pre-race stage at Darlington Raceway as NASCAR recognizes the moms who helped make it all possible for their sons.

“All you want is for your child to be successful, and every mother wants their child to be happy,” Ramona Vickers said. “I’m so proud of Brian — his actions, what he says, how he drives. I supported him in whatever he chose to do, and he chose NASCAR.”

There have been times where a mother’s instinct kicks in.

“He’s made us nervous a little bit,” she said, “but as you progress in your career, there’s a little more protection as far as safety. I’m more worried about who’s around him (in traffic), but I think he’s sometimes safer in the race car as he is out on the streets. I feel confident that the team is on its game with safety.”

Brian’s No. 83 starts 28th tonight at a wicked-fast Darlington. Teammate AJ Allmendinger rolls off 26th when the green flag falls around 7:20 p.m. ET.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Here He Comes

The crew chief on Red Bull Racing Team’s No. 84 has an appreciation for “Speed Racer.” The driver? Not so much.

“I watched a little bit of ‘Speed Racer’ growing up, but I can’t say I was a fanatic,” AJ Allmendinger said. “I’m not going to lie — I was more of a ‘Scooby Doo’ and ‘Flintstones’ type of guy. But I know if you talk to Ricky Viers, he was a huge ‘Speed Racer’ fanatic.”


“Everyday I’d come home and watch ‘Speed Racer’ after school while I was doing my homework. That way, I could watch more TV later on,” Viers said. “I remember ‘Speed Racer.’ I’m an old timer, but I remember watching it. I loved watching ‘Speed Racer’ when I was growing up.”

“Speed Racer” hits theaters today.

P.S.: There are two practice sessions at Darlington Raceway (noon and 2 p.m. ET) before this evening’s time trials (5:15 p.m.).

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Darlington's Favorite Son

For a kid growing up in Darlington — Maryland, that is — racing wasn’t even on the radar.

“We were starved for racing in that area,” said Rick Viers, a Darlington, Md., native and crew chief of the No. 84. “All they knew was horse racing. Growing up in junior high and high school, all you got was maybe 30 minutes of ‘Wide World Of Sports.’ You couldn’t even find a paragraph about racing in the newspaper.”

The landscape of Viers’ Darlington and that of Darlington, S.C., are similar — a stop light or two, an elementary school here and a convenience store there. But Darlington, Md., doesn’t have a Lady in Black.

Saturday night’s Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway — located three states below Viers’ hometown in the sand hills of South Carolina — is just another race for a guy who wore the first of many hats as a team owner and driver in the 1984 NASCAR Mid-Atlantic Region. After three years perfecting his on-track performance, Viers went on to win four races and the crown of Old Dominion Speedway track champion.

He jumped ship to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1988, following his heart to a tin-top racing career that has spanned two decades. His move to North Carolina fueled stints with seven top Cup and Nationwide teams and led to work alongside two of the sport’s greatest racers — Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon.

“Nobody knew anything about stock car racing,” Viers said. “It used to be that you were an outsider. Now everybody is wearing T-shirts and hats that show support for stock car racing. When you used to talk racing back home people thought, ‘What is that?’ But the mindset has changed a lot since then.”

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Testing for 600 Miles

Red Bull Racing Team enters the second day of testing at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, a crucial test considering teams are still trying to get a handle on medium-sized tracks.

Going fast is the goal, and AJ Allmendinger did just that in the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota, turning the second-fastest lap Monday at 184.150 mph. Brian Vickers, in the No. 83, was 27th at 181.068 mph. Both Red Bulls will tackle LMS in today’s afternoon session (1-5 p.m. ET) and the evening run (6-9 p.m.).

“We’re trying to learn as much as we can,” said Elton Sawyer, the team’s director of competition. “It’s a mile-and-a-half race track. There’s a lot of things we can learn over the next two weeks that can apply to other race tracks. You have to have a plan. If you go in there with no plan, you don’t get any results. We’re trying to push the envelope in testing.”

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Richmond Whips the Red Bulls

For most of Saturday night, Brian Vickers doubted his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota would even see the finish of the Dan Lowry 400.

No series of adjustments could cure the No. 83’s tight condition, and when Paul Menard’s No. 15 pinched Brian into the turn-four wall on lap 219 the car’s handling, which BV admitted was already abysmal, got that much worse with right-front and steering damage.

“I don’t know what happened to change the car’s handling so much from practice Friday to the race tonight, but something was off big-time,” said Brian, who slipped to 17th in points after a 28th-place finish at Richmond. “The car was extremely tight all day, and nothing we tried corrected the problem. It was too tight to even be racing with other cars. I purposely hung back at one point to avoid causing an accident.”

Tight was a term often used by AJ Allmendinger, too. He completed only 259 of 410 laps after a run-in with rookie Michael McDowell. AJ finished 39th.

“I haven’t caught a break yet, but I keep trying every weekend and I’m not going to give up,” said AJ’s crew chief, Rick Viers. “When I do catch a break, it’s going to be a big one — it’s going to be in victory lane. It’s like catching fish. You go after the ‘Big One.’”

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Welcome to 'The Rock'

The race itself is big, the challenge even bigger.

Sunday’s Carolina 500, the fifth stop on the ARCA tour, marks the first stock car race at Rockingham Speedway since NASCAR left what was then called North Carolina Speedway after the 2004 season. Andy Hillenburg, a familiar face in the ARCA and NASCAR garages, purchased the 1-mile track last year, and this weekend’s events kick off the rebirth of “The Rock.”

“It’s the second biggest race of our year,” Scott Speed said. “The biggest one for us is the first race at Daytona, but this is definitely big.”

Scott will have his hands full in Eddie Sharp Racing’s No. 2 Red Bull Toyota. Rockingham is no joke when it comes to degree of difficulty. The Rock has character, most notably its abrasive surface. Racing is slippery and demanding, and strict tire management is priority No. 1.

“It’s going to be a very long race,” said Scott, who’s coming off his first ARCA victory April 25 at Kansas. “We’re going to have a very limited number of tires. It’s going to be important to deal with attrition, to not get caught up in an accident or do something foolish. We just need to keep our heads calm, try not to make any mistakes and be there at the end.”

Qualifying for the Carolina 500, a 310-mile race, begins at 10 a.m. ET Saturday. The green flag is scheduled for noon Sunday.

On the Sprint Cup side for Red Bull Racing Team, AJ Allmendinger’s No. 84 starts 18th, while Brian Vickers’ No. 83 rolls off 32nd in tonight’s Dan Lowry 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, Fox).

Friday, May 02, 2008

Daddy's Little Girl

The newest member of the Allmendinger family made the trip to Richmond to cheer on the No. 84 and keep dad company. Her name is Misty, a 10-week-old yellow Labrador.

“I’m still way too immature to have a kid, so we’re testing out the dog first and see how that goes,” AJ said.

The Richmond weekend is Misty’s first taste of life on the NASCAR trail. While AJ was testing with Red Bull Racing Team on Monday at Iowa Speedway, Lynne Allmendinger picked up Misty in Daytona Beach, Fla. Misty was recently filming the K-9 comedy “Marley & Me,” starring Jennifer Anniston and Owen Wilson, in Miami.

“We’ve talked about a dog ever since the middle of last year,” AJ said. “We’ve thought about what we’ll do on the weekends we can’t take her, but we’ve got friends that stay here and they have doggie spas and stuff.

“I’m thinking Jay (Frye, general manager and VP) won’t be cool about a dog barking on the plane.”

AJ and teammate Brian Vickers have two hours of practice (11 a.m. ET) before today’s qualifying session at 5:40 p.m. The Dan Lowry 400 is an impound race, so it’s straight into Saturday night’s green flag (7:30 p.m., Fox).