+ 83's STRATEGY JUST MISSES, SPEED'S STAYS THE SAME The car was spot-on, the strategy oh-so close. But the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota never could gain track position or catch a break in Sunday's Dickies 500. Driver Brian Vickers qualified 13th, but...
+ 83's STRATEGY JUST MISSES, SPEED'S STAYS THE SAME
The car was spot-on, the strategy oh-so close. But the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota never could gain track position or catch a break in Sunday's Dickies 500.
Driver Brian Vickers qualified 13th, but fell to the rear of the field because of an engine change after Saturday's final practice. He moved from 43rd to 20th in 50 laps, then to 10th in 100 laps and to the lead for five, easily with one of the fastest cars in the race.
Track position, as usual, was important, and interim crew chief Randy Cox opted for a two-tire stop on lap 143. Vickers restarted second, but soon suspected problems with the right-rear tire. An unscheduled stop dropped Vickers from seventh to a lap down in 25th, where he fought to get in free-pass position (16th) with the help of a strong final stop from the pit crew.
Fuel mileage became an issue as the race stayed green to the end. Nearing a top-five finish in a rash of late fuel stops, the No. 83's tank came up short with one lap to go. Vickers pitted for a splash of gas, but lost only two spots in the running order two laps down in 18th.
The gamble nearly paid off.
"We had a fast car and that's important," said Vickers, who moved to 17th in points. "I'm proud of Randy and the guys. We had a car that could win the race. We just needed some things to go our way."
Teammate Scott Speed continued his approach of "finishing the race, running laps and not making any enemies" in start No. 3 of a five-race stretch to get acclimated to Sprint Cup racing. He's completed 99 percent of the laps, keeping the No. 84 in the top 35 in car owner points with two races remaining.
Coming off a 10th-place finish in Friday night's Craftsman Truck race, Speed started 33rd and finished 33rd in a race where he fought a loose condition all day and nearly lost the handle a few times in turns three and four.
Speed will partake in a Craftsman Truck-Sprint Cup double for the fourth straight week at Phoenix.
Brian Vickers, driver, No. 83: "Today was so frustrating because we easily had a top-five car. Unfortunately, I thought my right-rear tire was going down about halfway through the race so we had to come in for an unscheduled pit stop. I just couldn't drive it like it was. That put us a lap down, and we spent the rest of the race trying to make up track position and get our lap back. We were finally in a position to get the lucky dog, but the race stayed green until the end. Toward the end of the race we were running lap times just as fast as the leader."
Scott Speed, driver, No. 84: "Our car was so loose the whole race that I thought I was going to see it so many times. We just had no grip. No matter how many adjustments we made we just couldn't get the car to tighten up. I had a good car for only five laps of the race. It was so frustratin to run around all day and be so far off."
-credit: red bull racing