HE'S A GLASS HALF FULL KIND OF GUY No. 83 driver Brian Vickers, sidelined for the rest of the season while he recovers from blood clots, is in a position most drivers never face in their careers - being at the race track and watching their own...
HE'S A GLASS HALF FULL KIND OF GUY
No. 83 driver Brian Vickers, sidelined for the rest of the season while he recovers from blood clots, is in a position most drivers never face in their careers - being at the race track and watching their own car go around without them. But in true BV fashion, he's attacking the situation with the positive attitude he's known for.
"Everything that has happened has been extremely hard to accept. Not being in the car is frustrating," Vickers said. "But I've come to accept the circumstances and decided to step back and try to make the most of the situation.
"I'm now presented with opportunities, particularly in racing, that would have never happened. Stuff like sitting on a pit box during the race to learn and see everything from the crew chief and pit crew's point of view, take in practice from the spotters' stand, or sit with NASCAR during a race. I believe all of these things will make me a better race car driver when I come back next season."
Four hundred laps. Six hundred miles. Green flag in the day. Checkered flag at night. Indeed, NASCAR's longest race is a true test of man and machine. But our drivers, crews and everyone in between are chomping at the bit to earn a victory Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
82. SCOTT SPEED
RESEARCH-GATHERING RACE: Speed may have had a better chance of transferring into the All-Star Race through the Showdown had it not been for rain cancelling qualifying. Instead of a top-10 starting spot in the 40- lap dash, Speed started 18th. He wrestled with an unstable No. 82 Red Bull Toyota, but still climbed to as high as 13th. The race went green for the final 19 laps, and Speed was trapped in traffic as the frontrunners checked out. He ended up 14th, besting his 2009 Showdown finish of 19th. The No. 82 team treated the 54 total laps last weekend as a mini test session for the 600.
SPEED PONDERS 'WHAT IF?': "Seriously, this car was awesome. Definitely the best car we've had all year," Speed said after finishing 18th in last season's 600. "I wonder what we could have done with it if we had gone the full distance." That's right, Scott. What if? But we'll never know because the 2009 edition of NASCAR's longest race, already pushed to Monday because of rain, was cut short after 227 of 400 laps. Weather robbed Speed of the opportunity to show what his car had in store had the race gone the full distance.
VITAL SIGNS: Ranks 26th in points - 77 out of the top 20.
83. CASEY MEARS
NIGHT ENDS WITH A KISS (FROM THE WALL): Mears started ninth in the All-Star Race by way of a blind qualifying draw (rain cancelled qualifying). Twenty-five laps in, Mears' No. 83 Red Bull Toyota and Mark Martin's No. 5 made contact exiting the pits, initiating a left-front tire rub. The middle two 20-lap segments were spent trying to find a balance with adjustments. He started the final 10-lap shootout in 19th and avoided a multi-car crash in turn one, but a few laps later the right-front tire failed and Mears hit the wall between turns one and two. He finished 16th.
FIRST ON FUMES: On May 27, 2007, Mears visited victory lane for the first and only time in his Sprint Cup career when he won the 600. He secured the win with a gamble on fuel mileage, taking the lead with five laps remaining when most of the other frontrunners peeled onto pit road for fuel. Mears had no intention of pitting - he was either going to win it or run out of gas. But Mears' fuel lasted just long enough, as his No. 25 ran dry moments after the checkered flag. It was the same race that Brian Vickers dominated the middle stages by leading 76 laps.
NICE TRACK RECORD: "It is always exciting to go back to a race that you have won before. That, along with the fact that the No. 83 has good history here, should prove well for us. It's been a busy couple of weeks trying to transition into this car. Brian has been a huge help with that process. With the All-Star Race now under our belts, we have more experience working together as a team and I'm getting to know everyone better. I'm looking forward to a good run Sunday." - Mears
VITAL SIGNS: Mears has made only three starts this season, but the No. 83's position in owner points remains solid. The car ranks 21st entering the 600.
STAT THAT MATTERS: Along with his victory in the 600, Mears owns three more top 10s at 1.5-mile Charlotte. One came in the 600 in 2004, when he finished seventh in only his second crack at the day-to-night race. And Red Bull Racing's No. 83 team, with Vickers at the wheel, has two fifth-place finishes in the past three 600s.
A 'DIFFERENT' DRIVE FOR MATTIAS
Red Bull Racing Team tested Tuesday at Virginia International Raceway, with both the No. 82 and 83 Red Bull Toyotas turning laps. Filling in for Brian Vickers, Sweden's Mattias Ekstrom piloted the 83 car to provide the team testing support for the upcoming road-course race in Sonoma, Calif.
"I was really surprised how the car drove today. Everyone had told me that it would be very special and it was quite nice," said Ekström, a Red Bull-backed driver for the past nine years and two-time DTM champion with Audi. "The first hour of the test I was fighting the car a lot just getting used to the power, the weight and the fact that the car has little aero - all things that are very different for me. A few hours into the test I felt a lot more comfortable in the car and overall I think we had a really good test.
"I came into this test not having any experience in these types of cars, and also having never worked with the No. 83 team before, so it was really nice to see how well we all worked together. I really enjoyed my first Sprint Cup test and am glad to have had this opportunity."
FAN DAY ON FRIDAY
Red Bull Racing Team's annual Fan Appreciation Day is taking on a different look in 2010. Instead of the event being held at the race shop in Mooresville, N.C., we opted for the Epicentre in uptown Charlotte. Fan Appreciation Day will be Friday beginning at 2 p.m. ET on the first floor of the hip and trendy entertainment plaza called the Epicentre (210 East Trade Street).
Our four-pack of drivers - Scott Speed, Brian Vickers, Casey Mears and K&N Pro Series East driver Cole Whitt - will sign autographs from 3-4 p.m. On a first-come, first-serve basis, 100 autograph tickets will be handed out beginning at 2 p.m. at the adjacent merchandise trailer. Also planned is a Q&A session with the drivers, music, drinks, a raffle for prizes and team memorabilia, and fans can meet our over-the-wall pit crews.