Saturday, February 28, 2009

Speed on Nationwide Pole

Scott Speed wasted no time in getting up to speed in the Nationwide Series. He’ll start his first Nationwide race from the pole, turning a lap at 182.451 mph during Saturday morning’s qualifying session.

Speed, in the No. 99 Red Bull Toyota, is making his Nationwide Series debut with Michael Waltrip Racing in today’s Sam’s Town 300. Speed’s schedule calls for 13 Nationwide races this season, with the next coming March 21 at Bristol.

His teammate at Red Bull Racing Team, Brian Vickers, starts 10th in Braun Racing’s No. 32 Toyota.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ask Brian for Yourself

The media gets to ask Brian Vickers all kinds of questions. And so can you:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Effort Worthy of an Award

And the Oscar for Comeback Driver of the Race goes to … Brian Vickers!

Driver No. 83 came from the back to finish 10th in Sunday night’s Auto Club 500 — no easy achievement considering Vickers’ pole-winning run Friday was wiped out by an engine change. So Vickers rolled off 37th at the green flag and began his ascent.

By the first yellow flag for rain seven laps in, Vickers was up to 27th. By lap 50, he was 14th, as his Red Bull Toyota continued to show the speed that won him his sixth career pole and second at the 2-mile track.

The race became a series of long green-flag runs interrupted by periodic showers (four of the five cautions were for rain), and Vickers found himself a lap down but still driving one of the fastest cars on the track. Just past the 100-to-go mark, Vickers passed the No. 9 to get in lucky dog position, and a much-needed caution waved 10 laps later.

Vickers was back on the lead lap in 17th and entered his final pit stop with 40 laps to go running 12th. The No. 83 crew churned out an efficient stop to move Vickers into the top 10, where he stayed for his fourth top 10 in 11 Fontana starts.

The 25-year-old moved up 14 positions in points to 26th.

Teammate Scott Speed started ninth and finished 41st, pulling his No. 82 Red Bull Toyota into the garage inside 75 laps to go because of a broken exhaust system. The No. 82 sits 42nd in owner points after race No. 2 of Speed’s rookie campaign.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Speed Busts a Move

So you think you can dance? Scott Speed sure does, and he proved he has a little hip hop in him last week at Daytona.

On hand to perform at Red Bull’s paddock suite during the Duels was the Enigma Dance Kru out of Tampa, Fla. (Enigma participated in season one of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew,” just in case you question the group’s credentials.)

Enigma cut loose right there on the asphalt along pit road, jumping, spinning, flipping, rolling and bringing its original flavor and tons of energy. Then driver No. 82 showed up at the suite, and little did Speed know that moments later he’d be out there breaking it down.

All the guests crowded around to watch as Enigma showed Speed some moves. Speed, as usual, wasn’t timid, but it’s likely he’ll keep his day job of driving race cars.

Click here to check out Enigma’s My Space page.

Today at Auto Club Speedway: An extended Sprint Cup practice session begins at 5:15 p.m. ET. Then the Nationwide Series cars take to the 2-mile oval for tonight’s Stater Bros. 300 (7:45 p.m. ET). Brian Vickers will start 12th in Braun Racing’s No. 32 Toyota.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Pole and an Engine Change

Brian Vickers earned Red Bull Racing Team’s second pole in the past 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races Friday, turning a lap at 183.439 mph during qualifying at Auto Club Speedway.

But the celebration didn’t last long, as the No. 83 team was forced to change engines after time trials. They’ll have Saturday’s lone 1-hour, 45-minute practice session to dial in the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota before dropping to the rear in Sunday’s race.

It was the sixth career pole and second at the 2-mile track for the 25-year-old Vickers, who also qualified the No. 83 first last Aug. 15 at Michigan.

“I couldn’t ask for much more out of the car,” Vickers said. “Ryan (Pemberton, crew chief) and the guys from the Red Bull team did an amazing job. In this sport — in the Sprint Cup Series — you have to just about have a perfect car and a perfect lap to sit on the pole.

“Pit selection is very important, and we’ll be alright there. But it’s a shame we’ll be starting from the back. Having all of that traffic in front of us will be a challenge, but I know we’re all up for it. We have 500 miles to get up there and fight for the win.”

Teammate and rookie Scott Speed qualified his No. 82 in ninth at 181.965 mph.

“We know we have a car under us that’s going to be pretty good for the race. That’s the most important thing,” Speed said. “Both of the Red Bull cars ran really well here. These things aren’t that difficult to drive in qualifying. The race is certainly going to be a lot tougher for us.”

Going Back to Cali

Red Bull Racing Team has strong representation from the Golden State. California natives (clockwise from top left) include No. 82 rear tire changer Chad Avrit (El Centro), No. 82 crew chief Jimmy Elledge (Redding), No. 83 gas man Doug Newell (Oxnard) and Scott Speed (Manteca).

This weekend is one of three times the Sprint Cup Series will visit California in 2009.

“I always get excited about racing in California because it is an opportunity for me to see my family,” said Avrit, 25, whose hometown is about a three-hour drive from Fontana. “It also means a lot knowing that a lot of the people I grew up with in California are watching me from the stands, rooting me and the team on.”

Like Avrit, a trip out west gives Newell a chance to see family and old friends.

“The number one reason I look forward to racing in California is I get the chance to see my daughter,” said the 50-year-old Newell. “It’s hard when you are on opposite coasts. I also enjoy going back because California is where I not only grew up as a person, but in my racing career in the Winston West Series (now the Camping World West Series). It’s great getting a chance to see those guys again.”

And where does Elledge call home?

“Most of the time I say the Charlotte, Mooresville area,” he said. “California was home for me, but at the same time this is home. All of my family lives here. I’ve had kids in North Carolina, so this is home. But it’s always good to go out there.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One Red Bull Collects Another

Both of the Red Bull Racing Team Toyotas dropped to the bottom of the scoring sheets after being involved in a multi-car accident in Sunday’s Daytona 500.

No. 83 driver Brian Vickers had a run-in with Dale Earnhardt Jr. that sent Vickers’ Red Bull Toyota spinning in front of a hungry pack of race cars running 190 mph down the backstretch. With rain on its way, Vickers led the inside line on a restart on lap 124, and behind him was Earnhardt, who, like Vickers, was desperately trying to get his lap back.

Earnhardt dove low. Vickers blocked — clearly a legal move above Daytona’s double yellow line. The right-front corner of Earnhardt’s car clipped Vickers’ left rear, and most everyone knows what happens when two cars connect in a restrictor-plate race.

Vickers’ No. 83 darted out of control to the right, straight into the lead pack. When the smoke cleared, the final count showed 10 cars were involved. Included in that count was rookie Scott Speed, who was just logging laps and minding his own business toward the back while he continues to learn the draft and the attitude of the cars in it.

Speed pitted twice as the No. 82 team fixed damage. He went on to finish 35th in his first Daytona 500. Vickers went to the garage for repairs and returned to the track before the rain came. He finished 39th.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Going for a Saturday Drive

Brian Vickers returns to Braun Racing Toyotas for a limited Nationwide Series schedule this season, beginning with today’s Camping World 300 at Daytona.

In 12 starts last season, Vickers earned two poles, six top-five and eight top-10 finishes. In a Nationwide car at Daytona, the 2003 series champion has two top fives, including fourth in this race last season.

On Friday, Vickers qualified the No. 32 Toyota in the 27th position, but admitted the team focused on race mode rather than qualifying in practice.

“We were really happy with the car in race trim,” Vickers said, “and it handled really well. It seemed to draft well and suck up well, so we focused on that. It qualified as good or maybe better than we expected, and hopefully we’ll have what we need tomorrow.”

Vickers will drive a Braun car in the season’s first three events then return April 25 at Talladega. Teammate Scott Speed’s first Nationwide race comes Feb. 28 at Las Vegas in the No. 99 Red Bull Toyota with Michael Waltrip Racing.

Check out the Camping World 300 at 1:30 p.m. ET today.

On the Cup side: Speed’s No. 82 Red Bull Toyota returns to the track for the final practice before Sunday’s Daytona 500. Happy hour begins at 10:30 a.m. ET.

And on a side note …

One of the more popular pieces of reading material during Speedweeks is The Daytona Beach News-Journal, and Thursday’s special section focused on the history of car numbers since 1949.

According to the News-Journal, the No. 82 has raced 281 times with 44 different drivers and completed 40,461 miles. The No. 83 has raced 329 times with 52 drivers and completed 82,290.3 miles.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quality, Not Quantity

Only two drivers will battle for the title of 2009 Raybestos Rookie of the Year. One is Red Bull Racing Team’s Scott Speed, a former Formula One driver who’s been thrust into NASCAR. The other is Joe Gibbs Racing’s Joey Logano, an 18-year-old who’s been groomed to be nothing but a Sprint Cup star.

“We’re rookies for such different reasons,” Speed said. “Having come from such a big form of racing, I’ve gone through all the hype and dealing with the pressure and all that, and the pressure I have on me is for sure 100th of what he has. Then again, (Logano) has so much more stock car experience and probably handles himself better in racing circumstances.
“It’s really going to be interesting. We’re both going to be learning a lot, but we’re going to be learning in different areas.”

From Daytona: The No. 82 team spent Friday preparing Speed's backup car, while Brian Vickers' No. 83 was 21st in practice. Only one practice session remains (10:30 a.m. ET Saturday) before Sunday's Daytona 500.

BV Third In Duel No. 2

No. 83 driver Brian Vickers will roll off sixth in the Daytona 500 after finishing third in Thursday’s Duel qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway. He battled winner Kyle Busch and Mark Martin for the victory on the final lap to earn the best Duel finish of his career.

“We had a really good handling car all day, and that made the difference for us,” Vickers said. “We had a shot at it, for sure. Down the backstretch they started racing and we tried to push Mark. Mark and I both had a really good run, and Kyle blocked. Then I had an opportunity to pass both of them, but they beat me to the line.”

Teammate Scott Speed wasn’t as fortunate. He was taken out early when Boris Said’s car blew a tire in front of Speed’s No. 82 Red Bull Toyota. Speed finished 25th and will go to a backup car for the Daytona 500. He won’t practice Friday while the team prepares the car and will return to the track Saturday.

“We were behind Boris Said, and he blew a tire and collected us,” Speed said. “We scraped the wall and messed up something on the car. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time — there’s nothing we could have done to avoid it — except if we’d been running somewhere else. We just have to brush these incidents off our shoulders and move on to race day. The good news is that we’ve been so unlucky this week that the Daytona 500 has to go our way.”

Hear Vickers talk about his run in our audio section at

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Shot Down in the Shootout

Brian Vickers was on target for the best Shootout finish of his career Saturday night when a chaotic final lap left his Red Bull Toyota limping home with an 11th-place finish.

Driver No. 83 drafted at the front all night — even leading two laps —after starting seventh. He mentioned the track was “loosening up,” and the team opted to give up track position in favor of one last stop for four tires on lap 67.

He held the ninth position during the eighth caution that set up a green-white-checkered finish. “We have a good car,” he said, “but no one is as good as us so it is hard to find help.”

On the final lap, Vickers became a victim of circumstance in a four-wide pack that crashed entering turn three. He crept to the start-finish line as one of only 13 drivers to complete all 78 laps in the wild race.

“We were making a run back up to the front and the 18 (Kyle Busch) went low,” Vickers said. “He came back up on the race track and everybody just kind of got jammed up four wide and started beating on each other and then in turn three the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) wrecked. I don’t know how — if he got spun or what happened and I tried to avoid him but there was really nowhere to go.”

Teammate Scott Speed started fourth in his first Sprint Cup race at Daytona. And like Vickers, the rookie had nowhere to go when a multi-car accident erupted on lap four. Speed drove his No. 82 Red Bull Toyota back to the garage, but the front-end damage was too severe to return to the track. His night lasted a little more than three minutes as he finished 25th.

“Wrong place, wrong time," Speed said. "The thing is, with these things when someone wrecks in front of you, you’re pretty much committed. If you’re on the top these cars are so heavy they’re going so fast you can’t exactly just say, ‘Okay, I want to be on the bottom now.’ You’re pretty committed.”