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.”


Anonymous 83fanatic said...

I will be happy when whoever BV's teamate is, learns that you don't race your teamate overly hard in the middle of the race, especially when that teamate is doing you a favor! What a difference a year makes for RBRT! Great season to you all...keep improving as you have already!

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So can someone honestly explain why he doesn't have a good feel for the 84 car and doesn't learn alot in it? Just using his words here. Why wouldn't he have been able to put the 84 on the front just the same?

2:21 PM  
Anonymous TeamRedBull said...

At this point, the year ended better than could be expected. Thanks to AJ for putting the 84 in position to finish in the Top 35. I hope he gets a GOOD ride for 2009. As for Scott, it's good to see him not only qualify well, but stay up front and out of trouble. He's got to be the frontrunner for next year's Rookie of the Year. As for Brian and the 83... nothing less than at least one trip to Victory Lane and a spot in the Chase will suffice. Great job in 2008... keep the progress coming!

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what scott was saying is the 83 equipment is not the same as the 84-- if it was the same i'm sure brian would of been up front also with his experience at homestead

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're all reading too much into that. I bet he just meant that the car felt good. That could be that Homestead was a track he could set up his car better on, or that after five races he's finally getting the hang of driving a Cup car. He drove the truck at Homestead too so I bet that helped with his Cup car.

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he meant that he liked the 83 team guys better than the 84 team guys!

5:32 AM  
Anonymous tracy said...

Starting up front and getting clean air can make a huge difference in how the car feels also. So it's possible that outside of all the traffic in the back of the pack that he was able to get a better read on what the car was doing.

Starting up front made it to where he could stay on the lead lap, but once he fell to the tail end of the lead lap cars he still struggled to get through all the traffic. That's just something that will come with experience, but I'm glad that he had a good weekend so he could have confidence going into next season.

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 Cars in the top 35 means so much to RBRT. No more of the classic Daytona drama on who gets in and who doesnt. This just means a better 2009 season for both teams. Great Job and good luck next season!!

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say is what a waste putting scott speed in a car. He was a FAILURE in F1 and will show those same colors in NASCAR. AJ was a hard working young and upcomming driver, it will be a PLEASURE in watching him out perform your new loser driver.

1:17 PM  

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