Talladega: Red Bull Racing preview

+ GIMME THE KEYS! His car was on the race track racing. He was on the pit box watching. Yet AJ Allmendinger never lost sight of the greater good even when another driver had his hands on the No. 84. "It sucks being out of the race car. There's...

+ GIMME THE KEYS!
His car was on the race track racing. He was on the pit box watching. Yet AJ Allmendinger never lost sight of the greater good even when another driver had his hands on the No. 84.

"It sucks being out of the race car. There's no simple way to put it," Allmendinger said. "Your ego takes a hit. For a race car driver being at the track and watching cars, especially yours, go around might be the worst thing in the world."

For five races, veteran Mike Skinner drove the car as Red Bull Racing Team filled out a self- evaluation form. Thanks to Skinner's five consecutive starts the No. 84 is 40th in the owner standings - 111 points out of the top 35.

Allmendinger still faces the dreaded go-or-go-home qualifying situation, and this week it comes at a track where driver is at the mercy of machine.

"After seeing Mike drive the No. 84 car and seeing him struggle with some of the same problems I had been having," Allmendinger said, "it was a little bit of a relief for me to realize that while I had plenty of room to improve as a driver, we also have a long way to go as a team. Collectively, we still need to get better."

+ 'SWEET' SILVER
The silver No. 84 that's been shining in the shop unloads for the first time Friday at Talladega, and AJ Allmendinger can't wait to show off his car's new look.

"I think it's sweet," he said. "Our blue has been good, but it's one of those things that says, 'I'm back!' It's silver. It's going to stand out. It's going to look fast, and it's going to be fast."

In 2007, Red Bull's motorsports branding featured dynamic bulls, suns and custom deep blue color. More than a year later, the design is expanding with the silver No. 84. The car maintains the same styling cues as the No. 83 to ensure close affiliation but carries a silver pearl base and blue number to create its own identity and personality.

"Some would call it a aluminum silver. Some would call it a titanium finish," said Marty Briggs, the paint shop manager. "We would just have to call it bad ass."

+ TIM'S TRAINED EYE
AJ Allmendinger's spotter, former driver Tim Fedewa, admitted he sometimes got lost in the blur of Red Bull blue.

"At times, you had to really stay on top of it," Fedewa said. "You couldn't take your focus away from your respective car. I just couldn't take my eyes off AJ, especially when Brian was around. When you go back, your focal point is a blue car with some yellow trim. You couldn't tell. There's two of them."

Not anymore.

"The silver car "I'm definitely looking forward it," Fedewa said. "And it looks cool, too."

+ BRIAN'S SPEEDY SALUTE
Certainly what Brian Vickers does for a living is dangerous, but he knows it's nothing compared to "bullets whizzing past you."

The No. 83 driver spent April 14 at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, giving five National Guard soldiers who have bigger things at stake a chance to sit back and relax. Well, not really.

"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," guardswoman Jessica Reid said after sitting shotgun in a two-seat show car. Reid is soon off to Kosovo.

Down country roads, Vickers topped out at about 130 mph and wore out plenty of rubber doing burnouts on the base.

Vickers' lone Sprint Cup victory came in fall 2006 at Talladega, and he owns three top 10s in seven starts. He'll make an appearance on Speed's "Trackside" at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday. The next day, he'll drive Braun Racing's No. 32 in the Nationwide race.

+ 400-MILE WEEKEND
Scott Speed heads to Kansas Speedway for his first double-duty weekend. Friday he's in the ARCA car. Saturday it's a Bill Davis Racing truck, as Speed makes his debut in BDR's No. 24 Red Bull Toyota.

In the third race of the ARCA season, he finished sixth Saturday at Iowa Speedway. Solid? Certainly. But there are greater things at stake for driver No. 2. Like the championship race, where he now sits eighth — 70 points out of fifth and 215 behind leader Justin Allgaier.

-credit: rbr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Mike Skinner , Scott Speed , Brian Vickers , Justin Allgaier
Teams Red Bull Racing , Bill Davis Racing