Sunday, November 30, 2008

More Memorable Words

“Martinsville isn’t the nicest track to make my introduction to Cup, but it’s got to happen sometime.” — Scott Speed

“The field is not separated as much as it used to be. When the entire field is separated by two tenths, it’s really, really hard to pass. You have to be so much better than the competition to be able to drive back through there. You can get through the first 10 or 15 cars, but it starts getting harder and harder. It’s the small things — pit stops, working lines whenever the line changes, managing tires. You can’t make any small mistakes.” — Crew chief Jimmy Elledge

“When you’re on the cusp of being in the Chase, there’s a lot of pressure there. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself or the team. We are a second-year team with a second-year manufacturer, so the fact that we’re even in contention for the Chase is fantastic.” — Brian Vickers before Chicago

“I felt a bomb explode. It didn’t cut. It didn’t go flat. It just exploded.” — Brian Vickers on the blowout at Talladega

“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.” — Cliff Cameron, team chef

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Whitt Wins USAC Championship

At 17 years old, Cole Whitt became USAC's youngest champion when he edged Tracy Hines by one point to claim the USAC National Midget title on Thursday night.

The Red Bull athlete trailed Hines by 17 points entering the Turkey Night Grand Prix in Irwindale, Calif. Whitt finished 11th in the race; Hines 26th. And after nearly 30 races, he won the title 196-195.

“They’re all so good,” Whitt said of USAC competition. “All those guys have so many laps in every situation — a bunch of times. They don’t think twice out there on the race track. I try to learn from them the best I can. You have to work really hard to catch up to them.”

Driving Keith Kunz’s Red Bull Bullet/Esslinger Ford, Whitt was impressive in his first full season in USAC midgets. He led all 30 laps to win at Dodge County Fairgrounds in August and went to victory lane in the prestigious Hut Hundred in October.

On the sprint car side, he won twice — at Big Diamond and Gas City — and finished fourth in the championship only because he fell one race short because of age restrictions at Richmond.

Whitt, no doubt, hopes he’s on the fast track to NASCAR.

“That’s the reason I chose this way to go. A lot of people say the sprints and midgets are the toughest thing out there,” Whitt said. “Running on dirt and pavement and being in a different kind of car almost 80 times a year … you just get so much seat time. You learn so much.”

At Home for the Holidays

The off-season allows time for travel. The kind Brian Vickers enjoys, not the get-me-in, get-me-out kind of travel required on race weekends.

“There’s a difference,” he said, “in traveling for enjoyment and traveling for work. Traveling on a race weekend, there’s a lot of stress involved. When you’re traveling for enjoyment, it’s a completely different experience.”

BV spent much of his Thanksgiving week here in North Carolina, bouncing around from the race shop in Mooresville, to his business office in Thomasville to his pad in Charlotte. After that, he wouldn’t fully disclose his off-season destinations.

“A lot of time in New York, some time in Florida, some time traveling outside the U.S.,” he said. “Got to go to Austria. I’ll be everywhere. It’s going to be a lot this winter, but that’s OK. I love to travel.”

Teammate Scott Speed stayed local for Thanksgiving. “I keep it normal,” he said. “Nothing too crazy.”

This weekend, he’ll be arranging new furniture and decorating his home for Christmas. He says a trip to the West Coast is needed at some point during an ambitious test schedule.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Finals Week: Part II

And the questions keep on coming …

1. The No. 83 pit crew churned out five straight stops under what time (in seconds) to win the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge?

2. What retiring Formula One driver spent the day at Dover in June?

3. True or false: AJ Allmendinger met “The Terminator” at California.

4. The Red Bull Energy Station made its first appearance of 2008 at what track?

5. Scott Speed led how many laps in his first Craftsman Truck Series victory at Dover?

6. What North Carolina race fan was the recipient of the No. 83’s loose wheel in May’s 600?

7. The Red Bull X-Fighters made its first stop in the United States at what location?

8. Brian Vickers was paired with a long-drive professional on the HP Tee Shot Tour. Who was he?

9. From how many laps down did Scott Speed come back to finish eighth in the ARCA race at Cayuga?

10. Of the 11 yellow flags in the August race at Indianapolis, how many were competition cautions?

Answers: 1. 23 seconds, 2. David Coulthard, 3. True (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger), 4. Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 5. The final 51, 6. John Holman, 7. Fort Worth Stockyards, 8. Kevin Bullard, 9. Five, 10. Six.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Mic's Always On

While always looking forward, Red Bull Racing Team will look back a few times this holiday week on the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Straight from the mouths of the men and women who lived it.

“I thought we were just gonna cruise around, and he put his foot to the gas. I thought I was going to lose my hat and my mind all at the same time.” — National Guardswoman Jessica Reid after a two-seat ride with Brian Vickers at Camp Atterbury, Ind.

“It’s not an on-off switch. You don’t just flip it. Once you have it, you try to keep that going. You try to do the same thing that got you to that point.” — Competition director Elton Sawyer on momentum

“This is the foundation of the company, and the devil is in all the details.” — Manufacturing director Joe Hofmann on the in-house chassis program

“Sometimes when you unload, you just got it.” — Brian Vickers after winning the team’s first pole at Michigan

“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.” — Scott Speed on the Dominican Republic

“In baseball, it’s very rare that your glove falls apart and you’re trying to catch a ball. It’s a pretty durable piece of equipment. In racing it happens a lot, and it’s very frustrating. It’s just something you have to factor in.” — Brian Vickers

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finals Week: Part I

How closely did you follow Red Bull Racing Team in 2008? (Googlers get out!)

1. Scott Speed’s first double-duty weekend between ARCA and Craftsman Truck came at what track?

2. The Red Bull Toyotas led all 40 laps in May’s Sprint Showdown. What was the breakdown?

3. How many days did it take Scott Speed to move into the ARCA points lead after a 39th-place finish at Daytona?

4. Mathematically, Brian Vickers was still alive for a Chase berth entering the cutoff weekend at Richmond. How many points was he out?

5. What Red Bull event took on a tornado in downtown Atlanta?

6. Brian Vickers was bitter when NASCAR mistakenly positioned the No. 83 in fourth for late restart at Michigan. What car wrongly restarted ahead of Vickers?

7. Industry insiders refer to Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Safety Patrol by what nickname?

8. What Red Bull stunt bike rider dazzled the Bristol crowd in March?

9. What is the URL for Red Bull Racing Team’s on-line store?

10. This venue marked the 50th Sprint Cup race where at least one Red Bull Toyota competed.

Answers: 1. Kansas Speedway. 2. No. 84, 21; No. 83, 19. 3. 175. 4. 191. 5. Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour. 6. No. 8 of Mark Martin. 7. Yellow shirts. 8. Christian Pfeiffer. 9. 10. Watkins Glen International.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two Red Bulls in the Top 35

Brian Vickers snuck the No. 84 into the top 35, and teammate Scott Speed had the best finish of his Sprint Cup career in the No. 83. The driver swap paid off Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Red Bull Racing Team will have two Toyotas in February’s Daytona 500, as Vickers, the No. 83 driver, brought the No. 84 home in 32nd — just enough to move that car into the top 35 in car owner points. The No. 84 entered the race 17 points behind in 36th, left 13 points ahead in 35th and is guaranteed a spot in the first five races next season.

Speed, the No. 84 driver, gave way to the more experienced Vickers and climbed into the No. 83 for the last of his five Sprint Cup starts this season. He qualified on the front row and finished a career-best 16th.

“I’m disappointed because I wanted to end this year with a win,” said Vickers, who closed 2008 with the team’s first pole, three top fives, six top 10s and a best finish of second in June at Pocono. He ended up 19th in driver points.

“The guys have worked so hard. I’m happy, though, that we accomplished what we set out to do, and that was to get this 84 car into the top 35 in owner points. That will be a huge weight off the team’s shoulders going into Daytona next year. Scott did a great job in the 83 today, too. I’m happy to see him running so well.”

Vickers started 20th and was on target for a decent day until a pit-road speeding penalty on lap 128 put him a lap down. Forty laps later, congestion on pit road damaged the No. 84 and forced successive stops, but crew chief Jimmy Elledge radioed to Vickers that the closest competitor in the top 35, the No. 47 of Marcos Ambrose, was in the garage.

At that point, Vickers needed to finish no worse than 37th.

“After both incidents we still had a good car — really good — but were never able to get out of traffic and ended the race a lap down,” Vickers said.

Speed backed up his front-row qualifying effort in Saturday’s two practices, where he was third fastest in both. He backed it up in the race, too, keeping pace with Chase competition throughout the day.

As cars peeled onto pit road for fuel in the closing laps, pit strategy moved Speed to 16th, on the lead lap and position spot behind series champion Jimmie Johnson.

“We had a really good car all night,” Speed said. “The first half of the race we were a little loose getting into the corners, but as the sun went down and it got cooler out, the car tightened up a bit. This was a good race for us. We finished every lap, stayed out of trouble and came home with a good finish. I felt like I had a really good feel for the car and learned a lot so it was a nice to end the season on a high note.”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

38 Weeks Later

Red Bull Racing Team storylines as the grind comes to a close today at Homestead-Miami Speedway:

+ After a driver swap, Brian Vickers (above) starts 20th as the team attempts to move the No. 84 in the top 35. Vickers is a veteran of five Sprint Cup races at the 1.5-mile track, with a best finish of 18th in November 2004. The No. 84 sits 36th — 17 points from being locked into the first five races of 2009.

“I spent the whole year (2007) outside of the top 35, going through that. There’s a lot of positives that can come from this,” said Vickers, who was seventh fastest in Saturday’s final practice. “It’s really important for the whole team, for all of Red Bull, to have both these cars in the top 35 next year. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help those guys with that.”

+ Scott Speed, in the No. 83, starts on the front row after an impressive effort in Friday’s qualifying. He logged only seven laps in opening practice, but later turned a lap at 171.461 mph to qualify second. He’ll roll off just ahead of Chase contender Carl Edwards.

“My job is going to be a lot more difficult keeping it up there on Sunday,” Speed said. “It’s going to make our job more pressured by starting up front, but we’re taking our time. There’s a lot still to learn and we’re getting closer everyday.”

The green flag drops just before 4 p.m. ET.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stuck in the Middle of Two

No way was Scott Speed going to miss friend, mentor and teammate Johnny Benson battle it out for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck championship. He wanted a front-row seat Friday night and came from the back — twice — to get it.

A transmission change scratched a seventh-place qualifying effort at Homestead, and Speed started from the back in the No. 22 Red Bull Toyota. He charged to 15th within 40 laps, but was caught speeding entering the pits two laps later. Again, he went to the back.

The second progression forward put Speed in the middle of one of the closest championship battles in NASCAR history.

In a green-white-checkered finish, Speed restarted eighth — behind Bill Davis Racing teammate Benson and ahead of Ron Hornaday, each needing to beat the other for the title. Speed’s No. 22 was enough of a buffer, as Benson stayed one position and seven points ahead of Hornaday to win his first Craftsman Truck championship.

Speed finished 10th, another in a long list of strong runs for the first-year stock car driver. In the 10 starts since his June victory at Dover, Speed earned a pole, three top fives and six top 10s to close the season.

The 25-year-old couldn’t have been happier with the result. “Johnny B” has been instrumental in helping Speed adjust to heavy, full-bodied cars.

“I’m really happy that Johnny won the championship,” Speed said, “not only because he’s my teammate — he’s one of the nicest guys out there. He helped me out so much initially, so it was really cool to see him win. He definitely deserves it.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

BV and Speed Swap Seats

Have you heard this one yet? Red Bull Racing Team’s No. 83 and No. 84 drivers will swap cars for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Brian Vickers, who’s normally behind the wheel of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, will pilot Scott Speed’s No. 84, and Speed will pilot the No. 83.

“We already have two talented drivers under our roof, so we chose to switch drivers for one race and change the momentum for this team,” said Jay Frye, RBRT Vice President and General Manager. “Brian’s a team player and wants to help the No. 84 see the same success the No. 83 has had this year. Scott’s a rookie and we wanted to take some pressure off of him and let focus on just driving the car. This organization is a team effort and we're treating it that way by finding a solution that works for everyone."

If you log onto NASCAR’s own version of TMZ,, our response to “Is that really true?” is “No.” Vickers will not be required to wear sequined hats, zebra driving shoes or white Paul Frank sunglasses for this event. Vickers agreed to just drive the car.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Desert Stormed

Brian Vickers took a “really good, hard hit” when an undetermined problem sent the No. 83 crashing early in Sunday’s race at Phoenix. The incident looked similar to Vickers’ tire blowout last month at Talladega — sudden, unexpected and out of control, only he was going nearly as fast.

“In baseball, it’s very rare that your glove falls apart and you’re trying to catch a ball. It’s a pretty durable piece of equipment,” said Vickers, who finished 42nd. “In racing it happens a lot, and it’s very frustrating. It’s just something you have to factor in and limit as much as possible. We’ve gotten much, much better at it at Red Bull.”

Teammate Scott Speed endured his own tale of woe. After the smoke cleared from a nine-car crash, Speed found himself with a face full of fuel cell. The rear end of David Gilliland’s No. 38 came to rest on the No. 84’s windshield, spitting out flames from the exhaust. Speed emerged unscathed, but went home in 40th.

“Dude, I saw flames, and I was out of there. I was SO out,” Speed said. “I didn’t know if his car was catching on fire or the fire was coming from my car. I didn’t wait too long to find out.”

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dirty Business of Tire Changing

Ever swallow a mouthful of soot? Danny Kincaid did last month at Martinsville and will again several times at Phoenix. And trust him, it’s not an enjoyable experience.

“I’m going to be picking black, dusty boogers out of my nose for the next week,” Kincaid, the No. 84’s front tire changer, predicted at Martinsville.

Changing tires is a dirty business, especially at shorter, flat tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit. Martinsville, the smallest oval with long straights and tight corners, abuses brakes to the point when a tire comes off during a stop, a thick, black cloud of brake dust escapes into the face of a tire changer. Along with everything else a dirty racing surface has to offer.

Phoenix, a flat, 1-mile track, holds the same characteristic — brake pads slowly wearing down, brake dust just waiting to be inhaled. Stop after stop after stop.

“Right when you sit down and fire your gun, that’s when you get the worst of it … right on the first lug nut,” said Chad Avrit (pictured above), Kincaid’s counterpart on the rear. “It’s an immediate puff. Then it’s the dust. It starts swirling in your face. You’ll have that huge cloud at first, then it kind of turns into a mist.”

Needless to say, a shower is priority No. 1 when the pit crews touch down late that night in North Carolina.

“Immediately,” Avrit said. “You definitely want to shower immediately. You’re ready to get out of that firesuit and into some fresh clothes.”

Today at Phoenix: Brian Vickers and Scott Speed have their work cut out for them. Vickers, who has one top five and three top 15s in eight starts, rolls off 36th. Speed starts right behind in 38th.

Friday at Phoenix: Speed posted another impressive run in the Craftsman Truck Series, finishing 14th in his first time at Phoenix under race conditions. He hasn’t finished outside the top 15 in the past five truck races.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sweet Sounds of BV

From Eminem to Elvis, Sinatra to The Stones, Brian Vickers’ taste in music covers the spectrum. He even titled his MySpace Music playlist “Never Too Old To Be Young.”

“Music is timeless. Many artists are timeless,” Vickers said. “The old influences the new and in the case of myself, I as a young person, enjoy some of the classics.”

Twelve of Vickers’ favorites went up Monday in the featured playlist section at, and they’ll be given more real estate Saturday and Sunday. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” leads off.

“There are some things that we can all relate to. Music is one of them because it’s all around us,” Vickers said. “Whether you’re in the car, or in line at the store, chances are there will be some form of music around you. MySpace Music has given me the opportunity to share some of my favorite songs with their members.”

Also visit

Monday, November 03, 2008

'Muffin Man' Leads Speed’s Charitable Charge

Sitting shotgun in Scott Speed’s race to help the Chron’s & Colitis Foundation of America is the “Muffin Man.”

The little guy serves up muffins on the front of a T-shirt, and, through Speed’s own design and a partnership with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Muze Clothing, will hopefully serve up cash and awareness for a disease that hits home for driver No. 84.

Speed was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2003, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and sores in the large intestine or colon. Ulcerative colitis has similarities to Crohn’s disease, another form of IBD.

“This is a really cool opportunity for me to work on a project that ties one of my biggest passions — fashion — into motorsports, while also raising money for a great cause,” Speed said. “We’re hoping that through this project we can help create awareness and raise money for conditions such as ulcerative colitis, a disease that affects me personally.”
Muffin Man T-shirts went on sale today at Half of your $40 will go to the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation of America. They’ll also be on sale this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, where the Muffin Man’s creator will autograph shirts at an undetermined location Sunday from 12:15-12:30 p.m. MT.

Why a Muffin Man?

“Just random, mate,” Speed said.

Texas Chatter

Who better to describe the No. 83’s back-to-front-to-18th-place day than the men who lived it? Brian Vickers qualified the No. 83 in 13th, but fell to the rear of the field because of an engine change after Saturday’s final practice. He moved from 43rd to 20th by lap 50.

Lap 61, spotter Chris Lambert: “Looks like it’s going to be about track position and who can live through this thing.” Vickers up to 15th.
Lap 100: Vickers in 10th. Shortly after, he moves to eighth and has the fastest car on the track. He leads laps 113-117.
Lap 124, Vickers: “Loose all the way through. I like it.”
Lap 125, Lambert: “You’re the fastest thing out there.” Vickers in the top 10, fighting for track position.
Lap 143, interim crew chief Randy Cox: “Two tires should tighten you up for 5, 10 laps. The only thing that’s been wearing is the right front and right rear. If this doesn’t work, we have 190 laps to recover from it.” The No. 83 takes two tires and restarts second a few laps later.
Lap 162, Vickers: “I think I have a tire going down. I think I have a slow leaker in the right rear.”
Lap 169: The No. 83 makes an unscheduled pit stop for right-side tires, dropping from seventh to a lap down in 25th. (Upon further review, the tire appeared to be OK.)
Lap 241, Vickers: “All we need is track position. I couldn’t tell if that tire was going down, but man, I couldn’t drive it.” Vickers in 18th.
Lap 241, Cox: “I ain’t gonna second guess you. You’re the one who has to drive it.”
Lap 268, Vickers: “That’s what I’m talking about. Great stop. Under pressure, too.” Speedy stop moves the No. 83 to the first car a lap down in 16th, but the race stays green to the end and Vickers never gets a shot at the free pass.
Lap 324, Cox: “Just start pedaling it a little bit. We’re going to go for it.” Fuel mileage becomes a serious issue.
Lap 333: Nearing the top five in a rash of fuel stops, the No. 83’s gas tank comes up short with one lap to go. Vickers pits for a splash and loses only two spots in the running order to 18th. The gamble nearly pays off, and Vickers still gains a position in points (17th).

Teammate Scott Speed and crew chief Jimmy Elledge had a few sound bites of their own. Speed’s No. 84 started 33rd and finished 33rd and held its 35th-place position in the car owner standings. He fought a loose condition all day and nearly lost the handle a few times in turns three and four.

Somewhere around halfway, Speed: “I don’t just forget how to drive in a race. I feel like an idiot out here.”
Post-race, Elledge: “Welcome to Cup racing. School is still in session.”

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Two-Stepping at Texas

He battled with Johnny Benson and Todd Bodine, sliced and diced with Mike Skinner, had it out with Ron Hornaday. They’re all grizzled veterans that have shown Scott Speed a thing or two this season — Friday night included.

Speed finished 10th at Texas Motor Speedway, just another lesson learned in the Craftsman Truck Series that can only help his Sprint Cup career with Red Bull Racing Team.

“The thing is experience,” said Speed, who ended up 26th in June’s Texas truck race after a late spin down the frontstretch.

“More laps doing anything, especially against this caliber of competition, all helps. I’m learning so much running with these really good drivers at the front. It’s just an amazing amount of information that I’m taking in.”

Speed started 18th and drove into the top 10 in 15 laps, running as high as fifth at halfway. Fighting a tight condition in traffic, Speed’s last pit stop for four tires and fuel came on lap 96. He restarted 14th and charged to 10th, as the No. 22 Red Bull Toyota was the fastest truck for 10 of the final 20 laps.

It was Speed’s eighth top-10 finish in 14 races (to go along with a victory and four top fives), and only once has he finished outside the top 15 in his past seven starts.

On the Nationwide side: All signs point to big things (we are in Texas, after all) for Brian Vickers in his final Nationwide Series race of the season (3:30 p.m. ET today).

+ He starts 10th.
+ He’s driving the No. 10.
+ The Red Bull Energy Station opened at 10 a.m.