RED BULLS TAKE DOVER'S BEST SHOT, STILL STANDING Casey Mears filled in for close friend and No. 83 driver Brian Vickers on Sunday at Dover International Speedway. Vickers was hospitalized Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., with a medical ...
RED BULLS TAKE DOVER'S BEST SHOT, STILL STANDING
Casey Mears filled in for close friend and No. 83 driver Brian Vickers on Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
Vickers was hospitalized Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., with a medical condition that was later revealed to be blood clots in his veins. Vickers, 26, was released Friday and returned to Charlotte, N.C., for further evaluation. His status for race weeks in Charlotte and beyond remains uncertain.
Mears and Red Bull Racing's No. 83 team performed admirably at Dover. All things considered a call to drive three days before the race, an 11th-hour seat fitting and the learning curve between a new driver and crew a 22nd- place finish in the Autism Speaks 400 isn't all that bad.
"Hope Brian gets better soon," Mears said. "In the meantime, we're working real hard to try to maintain the best we can so when he comes back he'll have something good to get into."
No. 82 driver Scott Speed finished 23rd in the Autism Speaks 400 for his best showing in three career starts at the high-banked, high-speed 1-mile concrete oval. A third of the way through the season, Speed's average finish is 22.0. At this point one year ago, it was nearly 29.
82. SCOTT SPEED
COULD'VE BEEN BETTER, BUT : Speed labeled the finish as "reasonable" as in not good, but not bad. He started 29th, and under the first caution the No. 82 crew immediately went to work on the tight-off-the-corners condition Speed was experiencing. The adjustments continued, and the car's handling went from tight to loose on entry and exit. By that time just past halfway only 16 cars were on the lead lap because of a furious pace by the frontrunners. As the laps clicked off, Speed, who ran as high as eighth, fought rear grip issues as he flirted with the top 20. He entered his final green-flag pit stop with 25 laps to go in 20th and finished 23rd.
PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION: "For the most part, we struggled at Dover all weekend, so coming out of the race in 23rd is a pretty reasonable finish. It's actually the best finish we've had here as a team. This track is the toughest one we compete on and it's really been a thorn in our side every time we come here. So overall, we're improving and making progress and those are good things." Speed
VITAL SIGNS: 26th in points 77 out of 20th.
STAT THAT MATTERS: NASCAR's loop data statistics provide an interesting look at where cars are strong and where they're not. Speed's No. 82 Red Bull Toyota was clearly at its strongest in turn four and on the frontstretch. Speed made 29.73 percent of his passes in turn four, and that speed carried down the frontstretch, where he completed 32.43 percent.
83. CASEY MEARS
83 TEAM STANDS STRONG: It took three practice sessions and nearly all of the Autism Speaks 400. But eventually, the No. 83 team got the Red Bull Toyota to Mears' liking. The car was at its fastest in the final 20 laps a testament to the hard work by a crew that was still figuring out what exactly its new driver wanted. Mears started 39th and roared into the top 30. From there, the team tried various changes to the No. 83's cure handling problems and lack of rear-end grip. Finally, the car responded in the closing laps. But Mears, like much of the field, was trapped multiple laps down. He finished 22nd, prompting a "way to stick with it" from crew chief Ryan Pemberton.
VITAL SIGNS: Vickers' absence effectively ended his shot at the Chase as he dropped seven spots in points to 27th. However, the team's main concern is the health of its young driver. Vickers is 276 points out of 12th, but the No. 83 lost only one position in the car owner standings and ranks 21st.
HANGIN' TOUGH: "From where we started, there were so many guys those top two or three guys were running so much faster. We just ended up several laps down, unfortunately. But a lot of guys did. We hung in there all day. Considering the way things were, the way the car handled we've come out with a pretty good finish. I think everybody did a good job tackling what we needed to tackle this weekend." Mears
STAT THAT MATTERS: If there was ever a time to put Mears in the No. 83, it was Dover weekend. "Solid" would be the term used to describe his performance at the 1-mile track. Mears' average finish in his past 10 Dover starts is 15.2.
Sprint All-Star Race, Saturday, May 22, Charlotte Motor Speedway