Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Skinner and Speed to Share 84 for Rest of '08

Red Bull Racing Team announces Mike Skinner and Red Bull development driver Scott Speed to replace AJ Allmendinger in the No. 84 for the rest of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The No. 84 currently sits 33rd in owners’ points.

"The schedule we put together is in the best interest of both Red Bull Racing Team and AJ's plans for the future,” said RBRT Vice President and General Manager Jay Frye. "Allowing Mike Skinner and Scott Speed to share the No. 84 for the balance of the season helps our team continue developing our program for the future.”

Mike Skinner, who drove the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota for five races earlier in the 2008 season, will take the reins of the No. 84 at the NSCS races in both Talladega and Charlotte.

Red Bull development driver Scott Speed will drive the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota at Charlotte on October 11 – the same weekend he attempts to clinch the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship in Toledo. Speed will then take over driving duties of the No. 84 at Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sights, Sounds and Antlers

Random observations from the weekend at Kansas Speedway:

+ Coolest name for a minor-league baseball team: the Kansas City T-Bones.

+ Kansas Speedway is a jewel of race track with purple and yellow grandstands, well-groomed grass and wide roads entering and exiting the track — the latter being essential for the race after the race.

+ Two enormous elk heads — yes, heads — graced the Cup garage Sunday morning, a couple of trucks down from the No. 83. Fresh from the taxidermist, they were the trophies of Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Kevin Manion. Strange, however, seeing stuffed wildlife rub elbows with a stack of Goodyears.

+ The team’s self-proclaimed “fan numero uno” was in full force sporting a Red Bull can-like cape and bullhorns. Eric Novotny, 27, made the seven-hour drive from South Dakota to cheer on Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger. Every qualifying and race day, Novotny throws back two Red Bulls and bought 83 cans at the beginning of the season.

+ The team stayed in Overland Park, which ranks ninth on Money magazine’s 100 Best Cities to Live list. It’s also home to Sprint’s world headquarters.

+ Much of the garage was buzzing about Formula One’s first night race in Singapore. If only our races lasted 1 hour, 57 minutes and 16.304 seconds.

+ Wonder if dogfighter Michael Vick can hear the roar of the engines from his cell in nearby Leavenworth? In May, the aforementioned T-Bones wore black and white striped jerseys on “Michael Vick Welcome to the Neighborhood Night.” Their opponent sported orange jumpsuit replica jerseys.

+ The track is unique in that it was built in a large bowl, with spectator hills all the way around (pictured above). The view from RV row along the backstretch is underrated.

+ A college mascot convention broke out in the infield. Among the characters in attendance were Big Jay and Baby Jay from Kansas, Willie the Wildcat from Kansas State, Lil’ Red from Nebraska and Kangaroo Kasey from Missouri-Kansas City.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wrestling with Rubber

He’s a native Kansan, but Aaron Schields’ hometown of Goodland may as well be a world away from Kansas City. The No. 83 tire carrier says there’s little to Goodland, a small town seven hours to the west, other than farming, football and wrestling.

The latter he was exceptional at. He won four state titles in the Kansas Kids youth program and then took 4A state championships his junior (145 pounds) and senior years (152).

“It’s the most challenging sport mentally and physically,” said Schields, 27. “I kind of conquered all of that when I was younger. It teaches self-discipline.”

Wrestling translates well on pit road, too. A tire and rim weigh some 70 pounds.

“There’s more strength involved carrying tires,” he said. “But there’s also lots of balance and agility, quick and explosive moves.”

In Kansas: Brian Vickers qualified his No. 83 ninth (170.762 mph) for Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway. AJ Allmendinger's No. 84 checked in 14th (170.498 mph).

In New Jersey: Points leader Scott Speed continues his quest for the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship. He was second fastest in Friday's opening practice on the road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park, with "European style" qualifying set for Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Two Days of Testing

Brian Vickers has slipped, slid and saved it around Lowe’s Motor Speedway in nine Sprint Cup races. Mike Skinner’s total (15) nearly doubles that.

Scott Speed, however, has tackled the 1.5-mile track only once — and that start came in a Craftsman Truck, not in NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow and certainly not against Cup’s caliber of talent.

“I’m playing catch-up here,” Speed said Tuesday. “There’s absolutely no substitute for experience. In a series like this, where everyone’s got so much of it and you’re coming in with so little, every week I’m out racing or driving, it’s really quite helpful.”

The ARCA points leader and part-time trucker is testing the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota for two days. He was second fastest in Tuesday’s evening session, turning a lap at 184.881 mph. Mike Skinner, in the No. 84, and Brian Vickers’ No. 83 were 13th and 16th, respectively, under the lights, which comes close to the conditions cars will encounter in the Oct. 11 Bank of America 500.

“This car moves around a lot less,” Speed said. “Everything is done right on these things. The steering box, the pedal box — everything is really precise. It makes it actually easier for me to feel the car and the changes. So far, it’s been an easy transition.”

Testing continues today, with action running from 1-9 p.m. ET and a break from 5-6.

Tuesday's speeds
18. Mike Skinner (84), 182.162 mph
24. Scott Speed (82), 179.659 mph
28. Brian Vickers (83), 179.485 mph
Fastest: Dale Earnhardt Jr., 182.642 mph
2. Scott Speed (82), 184.881 mph
13. Mike Skinner (84), 182.871 mph
16. Brian Vickers (83), 182.741 mph
Fastest: Greg Biffle, 185.605 mph

Wednesday's speeds
5. Brian Vickers (83), 180.947 mph
14. Scott Speed (82), 180.270 mph
40. Mike Skinner (84), 178.436 mph
Fastest: Greg Biffle, 181.928 mph
2. Scott Speed (82), 186.638 mph
8. Mike Skinner (84), 185.433 mph
25. Brian Vickers (83), 182.896 mph
Fastest: Jeff Gordon, 187.233 mph

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

AJ Out at RBRT in '09

Red Bull Racing Team and driver AJ Allmendinger have agreed to part ways for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Allmendinger is in his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season driving the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota, which currently sits 34th in owners’ points.

“AJ is a talented driver and we really enjoyed working with him,” said RBRT Vice President and General Manager Jay Frye. “He’s come a long way in just two years and we wish him nothing but the best.”

In an effort to continue the development of the No. 84 team, Red Bull athlete Mike Skinner will drive the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota during this week’s Lowe’s Motor Speedway open test. Skinner has been called upon by RBRT on multiple occasions since the team’s 2006 NSCS entrance, including a five-race stint in the No. 84 earlier in the 2008 season, as well as mentor duties for both Allmendinger and Red Bull development driver Scott Speed. Skinner will round off a three-car test for Red Bull Racing Team alongside Red Bull development driver Scott Speed in the No. 82, and Brian Vickers in the No. 83.

Red Bull Racing Team will make an announcement regarding the 2009 driver lineup at a later date.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Painful, But Productive, Day

Certain his shoulders would ache in five hours, AJ Allmendinger rested with his feet up in the No. 84 hauler, eyes and ears tuned to NFL action on the flat screen.

“Not just ache,” he said, “but pain. It just hurts. This is such a tough race.”

Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway delivered everything AJ expected on his way to a 16th-place finish — a flurry of yellow flags, pit strategy, the car’s tight condition and a body sure to hurt Monday morning.

AJ was running fourth just before the halfway point, but the No. 84 grew progessively tighter in the second half, prompting AJ to relay by radio that "turning is non-existent."

The team later discovered that a broken track bar mount probably didn’t help the handling.

“I think it broke right before our pit strategy put us in the top five because the last two runs, we were just way too tight,” AJ said. “It wasn’t a top-five car, but I thought we could maybe get right there around 12th or 13th and see what happened, and that’s kind of where we were running. After that, it was just tighter than it had been all day.”

AJ’s sixth top-20 finish in the past 10 races moved the No. 84 up two spots to 34th in the car owner standings.

Teammate Brian Vickers battled grip issues all afternoon. Hardly ever could he carry speed through the corners or run the bottom. No series of adjustments seemed to help the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, and when they did near the lap-350 mark, it was too late.

Brian finished 31st and dropped one spot in points to 17th.

“If we still want that 13th spot — which we do — we need to get our stuff together,” he said. “I don’t know what was wrong, but we had no grip all day. I was running as fast as the car was going to let me through the corners.”

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Salem to Sin City

On paper, ARCA’s next event (Sept. 28) is just another race. But New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt Raceway is a 2.3-mile, 14-turn road course that caters to Scott Speed’s skill set.

He has, after all, traversed some of the world’s finest circuits in Formula One. New Jersey, no problem.

“We’ll be fine. We’ll bring really good stuff there. No need to worry,” he said. “We just need to stay on course, finish these last three races and we’ll win the championship.”

Coming off an eighth-place finish at Salem — his series-leading 16th top 10 — Scott leads the ARCA RE/MAX Series standings by 90 points over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with three races remaining.

But first, Scott must survive Sin City in tonight’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck race. He hasn’t driven Bill Davis Racing’s No. 22 Red Bull Toyota since August at Bristol, and he owns five top-10 finishes in nine truck starts.

A long day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway begins with two practice sessions (noon and 1:45 p.m. ET), followed by qualifying at 6:30 and the race at 9:30.

In Dover: Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger have today’s two practice sessions to shore up their Red Bull Toyotas before Sunday’s Camping World RV 400. Brian’s No. 83 starts 18th, with AJ’s No. 84 in 30th.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three Cheers for Vettel

There he was, lounging in his home away from home in motorcoach space No. 30 at New Hampshire. On the tube Sunday morning was the Formula One Italian Grand Prix, and Brian Vickers couldn’t turn away while a young Red Bull athlete drove to his first F1 victory.

“I watch F1 every week it is on,” Brian said. “Sometimes I watch live, but most of the time I record the races and watch later, usually in my motorcoach. I set my TV to record all NASCAR and F1 races.”

Brian’s TV archived a historic occasion, as Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel, 21, won the wet-weather Italian GP some 12 seconds ahead of Heikki Kovalainen.

“I cheered for Vettel,” he said. “I am very happy and proud for Red Bull. I had the opportunity to spend time with Sebastian in the off-season in Austria. He is a great guy.”

Brian drives stock cars with 850 horsepower at 9,000 rpms. Vettel pilots Earth-bound fighter planes with 700 horsepower at 19,000 rpms.

“I love the technology and the speed of the cars — and racing in the rain,” said Brian, who attended the 2006 United States Grand Prix. “The normally dry races can be extremely boring, but racing in the rain is great.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Frye Signs Multi-Year Agreement

Red Bull Racing Team formally announces Vice President and General Manager Jay Frye has agreed to a multi-year contract extension to continue managing its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.

“I’m extremely pleased and quite excited to continue my relationship with Red Bull Racing Team,” said Frye. “It truly is amazing to see the levels of potential, desire and dedication this organization has for wanting to succeed and be a leading force each and every weekend we compete on the track. To be able to continue to see this team achieve its long-term goals is something I’m very committed to.”

Frye joined Red Bull Racing Team in January 2008 and in his short tenure has been integral in leading the team to a successful 2008 NSCS season. Under Frye’s leadership, Brian Vickers’ No. 83 Red Bull team is currently 15th in points, and to date, has seen a season of accomplishments including three top-five finishes and six top-ten finishes. Teammate AJ Allmendinger’s No. 84 team won their first NSCS event with the NASCAR Sprint Showdown feature race, in addition to earning 1 top-ten finish and eight top-20 finishes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Indy's Yellow Army

Chances are anyone who’s been to Indianapolis Motor Speedway has had a close encounter with a “yellow shirt.”

Track officials refer to them as the Safety Patrol, but Indy insiders have stuck the yellow label on them because, while appreciative of their tireless efforts, they can go a lot overboard while parking cars or ushering around pedestrians.

And the yellow shirts are everywhere — on the surrounding streets, outside and inside the track, in the paddock, the grandstands, on the Pagoda and probably guarding the seventh green of Brickyard Crossing. It seems like every 15 feet there’s a yellow shirt keeping things safe for the public.

“More than 2,000,” Indy confirmed, work the major events — the Indy 500, Allstate 400 and today’s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix for MotoGP bikes.

“There’s a lot of them,” said IMS exec Mel Harder. “When it’s race day, when the stands are full, they become pretty passionate about their jobs.”

For the first time in 99 years, motorcycles will roar down the Brickyard’s famed frontstretch with today’s inaugural running of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.

“It’ll be great for thrill seekers who want to see a bike go 200 mph down the frontstretch, lean it over and scrape their knee on the asphalt,” IMS president Joie Chitwood said.

Four American riders, including Red Bull athlete and 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden, will battle past champions Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner around the course that uses part of the oval. Unlike when Formula One ran there, MotoGP bikes will race in a counterclockwise direction, with a new series of four turns just after the start-finish line. High-speed esses also replaced the double-hairpin Hulman Straight.

At Loudon: Weather permitting, Brian Vickers’ No. 83 and AJ Allmendinger’s No. 84 will roll off 16th and 34th, respectively, in today’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, ABC).

At Salem: Scott Speed finished eighth in Saturday night’s ARCA race in Salem, Ind. It was yet another top-10 finish for Speed, whose championship lead swelled to 90 points over Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Friday, September 12, 2008

No Shortage of Storylines

A Red Bull Toyota will not participate in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but there are still plenty of storylines surrounding Red Bull Racing Team as NASCAR’s postseason begins this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

+ Brian Vickers begins to debate what premiere week TV shows to download to his MacBook Pro.

+ AJ Allmendinger is fighting for his top-35 life. He and the No. 84 are 34th — 10 points out of the red in the car owner standings.

+ Brian’s in the hunt for the best points finish of his career. He was 15th in 2006 and is 193 points from the $1 million bonus awarded to the highest-finishing non-Chase driver.

+ In the United Racing Fantasy Football League, AJ’s team is off to a 1-0 start behind the stellar play of (no, not Brett Favre) Tony Romo.

+ Brian would gladly accept the role of Chase spoiler. He has finished eighth or better at eight of the final 10 tracks.

+ Before visiting Sunday’s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, Scott Speed has ARCA business to attend to Saturday in Salem, Ind., where he finished fifth in April. He holds a 50-point lead with four races to go.

At Loudon: Weather permitting, the Red Bull Toyotas will take to the flat, 1.058-mile track for practice today at noon ET, with qualifying set for 3:10 p.m.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Four Wheels, Then Two

Friday, he’ll visit the new drag strip outside Char­lotte, N.C. Next he’ll race Saturday at the tiny track in Salem, Ind. And then Scott Speed’s off to the Brickyard for Sunday’s inaugural running of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. That’s quite a weekend of motorsports — drag racing, stock car racing and MotoGP all rolled into three days.

“MotoGP is awesome,” Scott said. “I haven’t been in a few years since Jerez (Spain), so I am very excited about going to Indy this weekend. I have a ton of respect for the guys that ride those bikes. They are ridiculously fast and somewhat crazy if you ask me. Red Bull’s Nicky Hayden (see pic above) is a badass, so it’s fun to root him on. I would love to have had talent on two wheels other than four, but I don’t so all I can do is watch.”

Stay tuned to the Red Bull Indianapolis GP this Sunday, Sept 14 when Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the first motorcycle race at the facility since 1909. Good luck to all the Red Bull riders!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Speed Set for Cup Testing at Lowe's

Red Bull development driver Scott Speed will turn laps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series open test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on September 23 – 24. Speed will drive the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota under the watch of NASCAR officials who will assess his ability to participate in future Cup races.

Speed will test alongside teammates Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger. Rumors surfaced that Speed had already been privately testing a Sprint Cup car. We can confirm - those rumors were true. Speed tested at both Nashville Superspeedway and Kentucky Motor Speedway.

During the 2008 season, Speed has been running a full-time ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule under the wing of Eddie Sharp Racing, earning four wins to date. Speed has also been logging seat time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with Bill Davis Racing, earning his first Truck win at Dover.


...was what was going through the minds of Red Bull Racing Team after yesterday's disappointing run at Richmond. This, is what our duo of drivers had to say about finishing 36th (BV) and 43rd (AJ):

Brian Vickers: "We were never as good as we needed to be to run with the fast cars. The car was really tight in the center for most of the day. Then with about 100 laps to go, we were penalized two laps for blowing a tire. I guess they made the incorrect assumption that I was trying to bring out a caution, but I wasn’t. I never came to a stop and went as fast as I could with the blown tire. The right front tire was riding on rims. That was a frustrating call for us. The car was the best it had been all day during the last 40 laps or so of the race. Unfortunately, it was too late in the race and we were never able to recover from the penalty.”

AJ Allmendinger: “I really can’t even think of one good thing to say about this day. We dropped two cylinders right at the start of the race and we spent almost 60 laps in the garage trying to fix it. We made a mistake in the pits too, which forced us to make some extra pit stops. That put us down even more laps. Even though we lost a lot of laps, we still thought we’d have a chance to gain some spots back if just a few cars dropped out. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen and we ran around in 43rd all race long. Overall, it was just a really bad day for us and that reflects in the points standings. We came into this race 31st in points, and we’re leaving 34th in points.”

Friday, September 05, 2008

Introducing Cliff Cameron, RBRT's chef extraordinaire

Every job on a NASCAR Sprint Cup team is important, and one of the most critical during a race weekend belongs to Cliff Cameron, the team cook at Red Bull Racing.
Cameron is charged with preparing high-nutrition meals for the young athletes who go over the wall to perform 13-second pit stops for the Toyota Camrys of Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger. He also has to come up with meals the older guys on the team enjoy as well. It's a challenge he relishes -- no pun intended.

Born Charles Clifford Cameron II, the 33-year-old Red Bull cook has spent his entire career in the food business. After graduating with a degree in hospitality management from Appalachian State University and getting an associate arts degree from Brevard College, he began his career as a catering director.

"I ended up going through so many chefs in the first two years that I finally said, 'Hire me another catering director and I'll do the cooking,'" Cameron said.
Most recently, Cameron spent four years as executive chef at Queen's Landing, a restaurant in Mooresville, N.C., in the heart of NASCAR country that is popular with race crews. It was there that he was contacted by Red Bull officials looking for a recommendation for a new cook. Instead of recommending someone else, Cameron decided he was the right man for the job.

"I got in touch with (Red Bull Vice President and General Manager) Jay Frye, found out the details, came and checked out the situation, and found it to my liking."
Because he is a stickler for fresh ingredients and therefore does all his shopping the same day he serves food, Cameron prepares his menus on the fly. He can't always count on finding the same ingredients in say, Bristol, Tenn., as he will next week in Ontario, Calif.

"Menu planning actually goes on in the stores. You get to these race towns where it's just chaos, and they can be completely out of certain items -- a protein, chicken breasts -- so menu planning happens very spontaneously."

Each race day, Cameron prepares three meals a day for the team, prepared in a portable trailer with a built-in kitchen.

"It all starts with the shopping," Cameron says. "We do all the shopping on the road day to day. Sometimes, I shop at 2 or 3 a.m. at 24-hour grocery stores or Wal-Marts. I can get everything I need for the day and not have to go in and out of the track, fighting traffic."

On race days, nutrition is of paramount importance, especially for the over-the-wall crew and the drivers.

"Sundays gear more towards the nutritious sides of meals -- lots of fresh vegetables, produce, pasta, starches -- things like that," Cameron says. "Friday and Saturday, where it's mainly the garage guys in the group, they're good old boys, not so much athletes. I try to keep at least a healthy option (for them), in addition to the buffets."

Typically, Cameron cooks for about 60 people on Fridays and Saturdays, and 80 to 90 on Sundays, when the pit crew is in attendance along with the garage guys.

For Cameron, who is in first year with the team, the best thing about the job is something that lots of long-time veterans detest: travel.

"I'm getting to do a lot of stuff that I hadn't gotten to do," he says.
And he says the guys on the Red Bull team make it all worthwhile.

"They're pretty forgiving and I think they understand that I can't please everybody," Cameron says. "But seeing both cars qualifying decently and showing well in the race, once the weekend is over, it's very satisfying."

(Article courtesy Toyota Pit Pass; Photo courtesy David Vaughn)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Mission: Nearly Impossible

All that stands between Brian Vickers and the Chase for the Sprint Cup is (deep breath) stars and planets aligning, 191 points, a victory at Richmond, leading a lap, leading the most laps, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan and Kasey Kahne opting for a weekend off and most likely a Tropical Storm named Hanna.

Mathematically, Brian and the No. 83 team are still racing to the Chase, but it’s the longest of long shots. Brian, in 15th place, is 190 points out of 12th. He’ll make the Chase only if the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota dominates Saturday night, wins, gains the 195-point maximum and the hauler drivers for Bowyer, Ragan and Kahne somehow forget the way to Virginia’s capital city.

Realistically, there is still plenty to race for. After November’s season finale at Homestead, the highest-finishing non-Chase driver earns $1 million and a seat on stage at the postseason awards banquet. Brian also is battling for a career-best finish in points. He was 15th in 2006.

“We need to respect the fact that those guys are racing for a championship, but we’re there to win the race,” he said. “We’ll go for broke, go for wins. But we don’t want to completely forget about points. We’d love to get to that 13th spot.”

Brian holds the Richmond qualifying record — spring or fall — with a lap of 129.983 mph (May 14, 2004). His best finish of eighth came one night later.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Later, Dirt!

Two dirt tracks. Two eighth-place finishes.

Scott Speed started 14th in Monday’s second and last dirt track race with the ARCA RE/MAX Series and improved six positions over 102 laps around the 1-mile oval. On Aug. 17, Speed also finished eighth on a similar surface in Springfield, Ill.

But this race may have been more demanding. Speed had dust and Labor Day heat to deal with — and a Red Bull Toyota with faulty brakes. Still, he managed a series-leading 14th top-10 finish.

“I am glad that’s over,” Speed said. “I will be happy if I don’t ever have to race another dirt race ever again. I’m glad to still have the points lead, and hopefully now we can get after it again on the asphalt.”

Indeed, Speed gets back to what he knows best — four asphalt races and a road-course event to close the season. He carries a 75-point lead over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. into Saturday’s race at Chicago.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sunday Night Was the Pits

First, the bad news …

Neither of Red Bull Racing Team’s drivers was particularly pleased with their finishing positions Sunday night at Auto Club Speedway.

After the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota charged to the front, Brian Vickers spent most of the first 180 laps in the top five as the backstretch glare went away and day turned to night. But during a pit stop on lap 182, an errant tire and ensuing penalty (listed officially as “outside half of the pit box tire violation — not in contact”) sent Brian to the tail end of the longest line. He restarted 21st and could climb no higher than 12th over the remaining 68 laps.

“The penalty absolutely killed us,” Brian said. “It was at the end of the race. No matter how good of a car you have, when you get in traffic like that it’s just hard. You can only do so much.”

Late-race pit stops also doomed teammate AJ Allmendinger, who qualified his No. 84 Red Bull Toyota on the front row.

He was running as high as fourth with 70 laps to go, but a slow stop on lap 182 and then another 37 laps later left him 19th on the final restart. He made up five spots at the checkered flag and found himself in an entertaining back-and-forth battle with David Ragan for 13th.

“With this competitive field and the way these cars are you can’t get back there,” AJ said. “You’re basically restarting 38th at that point. The lapped cars have just as much right to race as we do. You’re in so much dirty air, and that’s killing the tires and there’s just a lot going on. We stayed clean and did what we had to do.”

And now, the good news …

AJ’s 14th-place finish moved the No. 84 up five positions to 31st in car owner points. It was his fifth top-20 finish in the past seven races. Brian climbed one spot in driver points to 15th.