Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Place Where Drag Is Good

A Red Bull Funny Car with Scott Speed’s name above the driver's side window? Don’t bet on it, but there’s always drag racing school this winter.

Scott spent a few days in Indianapolis to check out NHRA drag racing’s signature event — the U.S. Nationals. He hung out with pal and Pro Stock Motorcycle ace Matt Smith (pictured above), standing front and center at the starting line for each of Smith’s passes down the half-mile. Even more impressive was the roar of Funny Cars capable of 300 mph.

“To see the nature of that sport … it’s much more similar to Formula One,” he said. “The rules are a lot more open. You see a lot of really innovative and trick stuff in drag racing, and for me, coming from the sport that I did it’s really fascinating to see.”

He’ll miss final eliminations of the U.S Nationals, because after qualifying ends tonight, Scott’s off to the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds for Monday’s ARCA race. He carries a 110-point lead into the second and final dirt track race of the season.

From the Midwest to SoCal …

AJ Allmendinger will start a race with a clear windshield for the first time in his Sprint Cup car when he rolls off outside of pole-sitter Jimmie Johnson for 250 long laps around Auto Club Speedway. Teammate Brian Vickers starts 19th.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Quest for the Shootout

AJ Allmendinger isn’t racing to the Chase. He does, however, have plenty at stake in the final 12 races.

Priority No. 1 is securing the No. 84 a spot in the top 35. He’s 13 points from that mark entering 500 long miles Sunday at Auto Club Speedway. No. 2 is gaining eligibility in the season-opening Shootout at Daytona.

Under format changes that NASCAR announced Tuesday, the top six teams from each manufacturer in the final 2008 car owner standings will run in the annual all-star race. It used to be that only the previous season’s pole winners and past event champions qualified, which rendered obsolete Brian Vickers’ recent Michigan pole. (It’s still a heck of an achievement.)

At 17th, Brian’s No. 83 is the fourth Toyota in line — safe and sound for the Shootout and well ahead of the No. 44 in 28th. AJ’s No. 84 is 36th — eighth of the Toyotas and only 52 points behind the No. 55 in sixth place.

AJ appears to be on his way to reaching both goals. He was third in Friday’s opening practice, with qualifying set for 6:40 p.m. ET. Brian was fifth on the sheet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Loose Really Feels Like

AJ Allmendinger has tackled the streets of Long Beach and the high banks of Talladega, but hardly anything can prepare him for drifting.

“I’m afraid of heights. I’m not a big fan of the water. I don’t ski or snowboard. And I don’t skateboard,” AJ said. “So when Red Bull asked me to go drifting, I was all over it.”

AJ will meet with Red Bull athlete, Formula Drift ace and stunt driver Rhys Millen on Thursday for an exhibition-style run at the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Training Center. There, Millen will help AJ learn the art of navigating a Pontiac Solstice with little grip and lots of tail whip.

“For me,” Millen said, “drifting is more about the personal reward of being able to overcome vehicle dynamics and do things that cars are not supposed to do, to position a car in an out-of-control state yet sustain control. I’m not really into cars. I don’t own a lot of cars. I just love to drive.”

Millen, a native New Zealander and current San Juan Capistrano, Calif., resident, won the Formula Drift championship in 2005 and followed up with a runner-up finish in 2006. Also an accomplished rally racer, Millen has appeared as a stunt driver in films such as “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.”

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bouncing Around Bristol

Brian Vickers started 26th and finished 20th in a relatively uneventful Sprint Cup race Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. He lost one position in points and sits 16th entering Sunday’s race at California Speedway, where his past three finishes are 10th, eighth and 11th.

“We didn’t really know what we would have until the start of the race,” Vickers said. “The car turned out to be pretty good in the center and under throttle, and it turned a lot better. As we predicted, after changes were made to the car after practice, the front of the car was better. We just needed to get the rear of the car hooked up a bit more because we fought a loose condition all night. The attrition rate definitely helped us. This race always takes patience because it is so long. I knew if we could be there at the end we would come away with a decent finish.”

Teammate AJ Allmendinger and Martin Truex Jr. got together and hit the wall on lap 97 to bring out the first yellow flag. He returned to action on lap 208 and went on to finish 34th, with the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota now 14 points from the top 35.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Speed Stands Fast at Bristol

Hardly anyone could tell Wednesday night was Scott Speed’s first crack at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Speed again showed his ability to adapt and react to whatever is thrown at him — this time it was the notoriously nasty bullring in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. He captured his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pole and finished third in the O’Reilly 200.

“I had a ton of fun out there,” said Speed, racing the No. 22 Red Bull Toyota for the first time since June at Michigan. “This is definitely my new favorite short track, for sure. (Crew chief) Doug Wolcott and the BDR guys are awesome, and I can’t wait to get back in this thing at Vegas.”

Speed remained calm throughout a frustrating and hectic race, battling up front with veterans such as race winner Kyle Busch, second-place Todd Bodine and teammate Johnny Benson. Rarely was Speed out of the top five.

“The racing was a lot more difficult than driving in qualifying,” Speed said. “I saved a lot in the middle knowing we had to be good in the end. At the end, I think we had the best truck out there.”

In nine truck starts, Speed has one win, three top fives and five top 10s. His next scheduled start comes Sept. 20 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Scott in Search of ‘The Lowdown’

Safely navigating around Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the great mysteries of Scott Speed’s initial foray into oval-track racing. Luckily, he has veteran Bill Davis Racing teammates Johnny Benson and Mike Skinner to lean on, because Scott makes his first Craftsman Truck Series start on the .533-mile oval Wednesday night.

“I’m kind of relying on them to get the lowdown,” said Scott, who hasn’t driven BDR’s No. 22 Red Bull Toyota since June’s third-place finish at Michigan.

Benson has made four truck starts at Bristol, with one win and three top fives. Skinner is no slouch, either. He owns the same numbers in six starts. All totaled, the two have combined to make 50 starts at Bristol in NASCAR’s top three divisions.

“A lot of people have given me tips on Bristol,” said the ARCA points leader. “Mike and Johnny have probably run there more than anyone in the series, so they know the track well. I just hope that I adapt quickly. It should be a lot of fun and if we are there in the end, we’ll see what we can do.”

It appears Scott is adapting rather quickly. He was eighth in Wednesday’s first practice and moved to sixth in the final session. Qualifying is set for 4:15 p.m. ET, with an 8 p.m. green flag for the O’Reilly 200.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bull Crew's Lastest Addition

Will the son kick soccer balls or sling tires? Dad has plenty of time to figure that out.

Gage Evan Dheel was born Aug. 12 at 6:18 a.m. ET in Concord, N.C., to parents Mandy and Brian Dheel, the No. 84’s rear tire carrier. Gage weighed six pounds, three ounces and stood all of 19 and a half inches tall. His full head of dark hair complements his mom.

Dheel, 31, played soccer in Europe in 1995-96 and competed at the semi-pro level in the United States. He has coached high-school soccer in his native Ohio, so it came as no surprise when Dheel immediately wanted to find a soccer ball small enough for Gage to play with.

Congrats on your first child!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chase Still Within Reach

Brian Vickers pumped some life back into his postseason chances, finishing seventh in Sunday’s 3M Performance 400 at Michigan.

Three races remain before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins Sept. 14 at New Hampshire, and Brian and the No. 83 team have a 166-point mountain to climb to reach the top 12. The sixth top-10 finish of the season moved him from 17th to 15th in the driver standings.

“It was a good points day,” said Brian, who chipped off a 44-point chunk on the Chase. “That’s one thing that we can walk away being happy about.”

The No. 83 Red Bull Toyota earned the team’s first pole in its two-year existence and led twice for 21 laps. Brian ran in the top five for the first two-thirds of the 400-mile race, but the car couldn’t quite keep up with changing track conditions despite a late two-tire stop.

“We felt like we had a car capable of winning,” Brian said. “We chased the track a little bit. I think everybody did. We didn’t chase it fast enough. The track continued to get looser and looser, and we didn’t keep up with it quite as fast as we needed to.”

Teammate AJ Allmendinger, who started 33rd, was forced to pit on lap 24 to repair minor cosmetic damage on the right-front fender. He fell a lap down and spent the rest of the day trying to get it back before finishing 28th.

AJ’s No. 84 Red Bull Toyota sits 36th in the car owner standings — 13 points out of the top 35 entering Bristol, where AJ made his first Sprint Cup start in March 2007.

Friday, August 15, 2008

BV: Pole Man at Michigan

Brian Vickers knew his car was stout — like pole-winning stout — as soon as he took to the 2-mile surface Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

“Sometimes when you unload,” he said, “you just got it.”

The No. 83 Red Bull Toyota had it, and then some.

Brian took the pole position for Sunday’s 3M Performance 400, turning a lap at 188.536 mph (38.189 seconds) to earn Red Bull Racing Team’s first pole in only its second year of Sprint Cup competition. The pole was the fifth of Brian’s Cup career and guarantees him a spot in February’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.

The No. 83 was also fastest in afternoon practice, more than two-tenths of second ahead of the competition.

“I’m really proud of everybody,” Brian said. “The car was just awesome — just really happy with it right out of the gate. It handled well. It had good grip. Sometimes you just hit it. You don’t really know why.”

Teammate AJ Allmendinger, safely in the top 35 for the first time in his Sprint Cup career, qualified the No. 84 in the 33rd position (184.030 mph).

Team Gear a Few Clicks Away

If you can’t make it to the trackside merchandise trailer or Red Bull Racing Team’s shop-side store in Mooresville, N.C., we’ve now got you covered. All of the latest team swag is available in our online Bullshop at

Feel free to choose from:
+ Eight caps.
+ 21 men’s tops, ranging from jackets and polos to thermals and T-shirts.
+ 15 novelty items that include 1:24 scale diecasts of the Nos. 83 and 84.
+ Eight stylish women’s tops.
+ And one youth cap.

To steal a term out of the Scott Speed dictionary, it’s “super” easy. Simply register, enter your profile and go shopping.

On the competition front …

After a noon ET practice session at Michigan, Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger qualify the Red Bull Toyotas at 3:40 p.m. And don’t forget to check out AJ on Speed’s “Trackside” program at 7 p.m.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

AJ Can Rest Easy — For Now

For the first time in 53 races, AJ Allmendinger enters a weekend with a certain sense of comfort. His No. 84 Red Bull Toyota is in the top 35, and that status guarantees him a starting spot at Michigan.

“For me,” he said, “it won’t be the anxiety of, ‘Oh my God, we have to make this race.’”

AJ has reeled off four consecutive finishes inside the top 20 since the addition of crew chief Jimmy Elledge, with three of those being 13th or better. After an 11th-place showing Sunday at Watkins Glen, the No. 84 jumped from 37th to the coveted 35th position in car owner points. He’s in the show — regardless of what disaster might strike in the Irish Hills.

“It’s a big deal for at least one week,” AJ said. “But we’re only in (the top 35) by eight points, and I don’t want to say we’re good. All it takes is one little mistake, mechanical or driver error, and we’re right back out. Friday will definitely be a much better day this week, but we want to keep building on the momentum. I don’t want to just be in the top 35. I want to keep looking forward.”

Practice for the 3M Performance 400 begins at noon ET on Friday, with AJ's first stress-free qualifying session beginning at 3:40 p.m.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Drive to 35

Life’s pretty good these days for gamer/driver AJ Allmendinger. Madden NFL 09 goes on sale Tuesday at midnight, AJ’s man crush, Brett Favre, graces the game’s cover and then there’s that little career hurdle called the top 35.

AJ’s No. 84 Red Bull Toyota finished 11th in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen, moving up two spots to 35th in the car owner standings and eight points out of the red. It was AJ’s fourth consecutive finish inside the top 20, and finally, for the first time in nearly two seasons, he can have a stress-free qualifying day.

“When we get to Michigan I’ll be a lot happier when we don’t have to qualify on time,” AJ said. “Right now, I’m just a little disappointed because I wanted that top 10 and I wanted to finish off strong, but 11th … I will take it.”

Crew chief Jimmy Elledge’s pit strategy again propelled AJ toward the front. After starting 37th, he was the first car to pit on lap 16. He returned to the track in 43rd, but by the time competitors’ stops cycled through on lap 30 he was 19th. Another pit sequence sent AJ to 12th, and he just missed a top-10 finish on the final lap.

“We’re in the top 35 and that’s been our big deal,” AJ said, “and I know once we get in we’re not going to fall back out. The car was good. Jimmy, like usual, used awesome strategy.”

Teammate Brian Vickers is still within striking distance of the Chase, mostly because the No. 83 team performed major surgery after the car was slow in Saturday practices. The crew changed the transmission, shocks, springs and much more, and an 18th-place finish has Brian 17th in points — 210 out of the top 12 with four races remaining before the Chase begins Sept. 14 at New Hampshire.

Michigan is one of the team’s better tracks. Brian led 44 laps and finished fourth in Red Bull Racing Team’s last visit there in June. He has four top 10s in nine Michigan starts.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Speed Bags Win No. 4

Scott Speed headed into Nashville determined to extend his points lead. Mission accomplished, as Speed’s fourth ARCA RE/MAX Series victory of the season padded his championship lead to 140 points over Matt Carter.

“This win is great,” said Speed, who led the final eight laps of the Toyota 150. “I just paced myself and remained calm within the last few laps, and it all worked out. My hat is off to my guys. They are awesome, and they deserve this more than anyone.”

Speed twice tested with Eddie Sharp Racing at Nashville over the past few weeks and felt confident on the concrete. He capitalized on repeated on-track incidents between Justin Allgaier and Sean Caisse, and passed Caisse with three laps to go. Just as Speed took the white flag, another caution set up ARCA’s mandatory green-flag finish, but Speed and the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota drove away from second-place Jeremy Clements and won by five car lengths.

“When the opportunity presented itself,” Speed said, “I took it … just played out the race and waited to lead until the end. Those are the only laps you need to lead anyways.”

With seven races remaining, Speed leads the series in all major statistical categories — four wins, nine top fives and 12 top 10s.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Meet, Greet AJ Out of the Heat

The following is incentive to come and meet the “Dinger” as part of the AJ Allmendinger Fan Package on Aug. 31 at Auto Club Speedway.

+ He needs emotional support during “Days of Our Favre.”

+ For $210, you get pre-race pit access, reserved grandstand seating, parking and a gift bag full of AJ gear.

+ He's a California racer.

+ Meet, greet and get AJ’s autograph in the air-conditioned Party Zone. (This is Fontana in August, after all.)

+ It’s easy to purchase tickets. Call 909.429.5134 or visit

Sprint Cup at Watkins Glen …

AJ and teammate Brian Vickers shake down the Red Bull Toyotas at 11:45 a.m. ET before qualifying at 3:10 p.m.

ARCA at Nashville …

Scott Speed and Eddie Sharp Racing have three hours of practice (1:30-4:30 p.m.) on the concrete surface before Saturday’s qualifying at 10:30 a.m.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

An 'Awkward' Trip Home

A unique characteristic of Watkins Glen International is that it’s the only Sprint Cup track where cars pit to the right, which can make over-the-wall life difficult for Danny Kincaid.

“Everything is in the opposite direction of what you’re used to,” said Kincaid, the No. 83’s front tire changer. “You feel really awkward going the opposite direction that you’ve trained your body in. It’s a really big difference.”

Unlike the flurry of pit stops last month at Indianapolis, Kincaid anticipates a two-stop strategy in a race where fuel far outweighs fresh tires.

“It’s very boring for us,” he said. “Gas is the big deal. Two stops and we’ll call it a day.”

Not all is bad for the 27-year-old. He hails from Port Byron, N.Y., a little more than an hour drive from Watkins Glen. “Most of my family is from there and still lives there,” Kincaid said. “I don’t get to see them very often, so it’ll be a nice change.”

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Bound for Beijing

Swimmer Amanda Beard headlines a four-athlete contingent of Red Bull’s best from America when the Summer Olympic Games open this weekend in Beijing.

Beard, one of three U.S. swim team captains, qualified for her fourth Olympics in the 200-meter breaststroke and is pursuing her third gold and eighth overall medal. As a 14-year-old high school student, Beard, now 26, made her Olympic debut in 1996 at Atlanta, famously holding a teddy bear on the podium.

“Everyone thought I retired after the 2004 Olympics,” she said. “I never retired. I love it so much, and I’m still pretty good at it, so I don’t feel the need to stop. And I don’t plan on slowing down after the age of 26.”

Other Red Bull athletes off to China include: Mike Day, who’s part of the first Olympic BMX team; Jill Kitner, who overcame two knee injuries to become the first American woman to participate in BMX racing; and Todd Rogers will partner with Phil Dalhausser in beach volleyball.

Also, be sure to check out Red Bull Racing team's midseason video clip at

Monday, August 04, 2008

No Honeymoon in Poconos

A confusing series of pit strategies played into AJ Allmendinger’s favor Sunday at Pocono Raceway, helping him to a “cheap” 19th-place finish in the Pennsylvania 500.

Frustratingly loose and hardly worthy of a top-20 day, the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota last pitted on lap 166. But as fuel mileage unfolded in the end and competitors’ cars ran dry, AJ stole a handful of spots and gained 25 points on the top 35.

“We were 35th all day and once again, that’s what Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) and the boys are so good at now is the strategy,” AJ said. “He played it right, knowing that most of those guys couldn’t make it on fuel and we would pick up some cheap spots with that and we did.”

The No. 84 remained 37th in the car owner standings, 38 points from AJ’s first stress-free qualifying day.

Teammate Brian Vickers last pitted on lap 163 to maintain track position, but he eventually fell victim to fuel mileage. The No. 83 ran out of gas on the final lap and crept home in 28th.

Brian is 16th in points — 203 from the Chase’s 12th and final berth.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Driver No. 2 Is Now Driver No. 1

It took Scott Speed 12 races spanning six months — 175 days, to be exact — to move into the ARCA RE/MAX Series points lead after a disastrous start at Daytona.

He left the season opener 37th in the standings after a wreck and DNF in Eddie Sharp Racing’s Red Bull Toyota. But Scott quickly moved into the top 10 in April at Iowa, the top five in June at Pocono and now, after a return trip to eastern Pennsylvania, the lead.

Driver No. 2 finished second in Saturday’s Pocono 200, falling just short of catching winner Justin Allgaier in the tunnel turn on the final lap. It was Scott’s eighth top five and 11th top 10, and he leads Matt Carter by 95 points entering Saturday’s race at Nashville.

ARCA’s diverse schedule doesn’t get any easier, as pavement racing soon goes out the window. After Nashville, ARCA cars hit the dirt at Illinois fairgrounds tracks in Springfield and DuQuoin.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Speed Closes In on Stenhouse

Scott Speed has the luxury of two asphalt races before he really gets down and dirty, beginning with Saturday’s ARCA race at Pocono Raceway.

The Red Bull driver scored his third ARCA RE/MAX Series victory of the season Saturday night at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway. He led the final 48 laps after passing nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel and held off Justin Allgaier to earn his second consecutive victory.

He shaved 10 points off Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s championship lead and trails by 55 entering the Pennsylvania 200.

Scott will soon miss the comfortable feeling of pavement and grip. After Pocono and the Aug. 9 race in Nashville, ARCA heads to two dirt-track races on fairgrounds tracks in Illinois. His next Craftsman Truck start with Bill Davis Racing doesn’t come until Aug. 20 at Bristol.

He’ll qualify Eddie Sharp Racing’s No. 2 Red Bull Toyota at 1:45 p.m. ET.

On the Sprint Cup side …

Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger have a 90-minute practice at noon before their time trials at 3:40 p.m. They finished second and 12th, respectively, in the June Pocono event.