BV GETS HIS DUE ON STARRY NIGHT More than a week of uncertainty culminated Friday with No. 83 driver Brian Vickers announcing that he'll miss the remainder of the 2010 Sprint Cup season while he recovers from blood clots. But we put the "team"...
BV GETS HIS DUE ON STARRY NIGHT
More than a week of uncertainty culminated Friday with No. 83 driver Brian Vickers announcing that he'll miss the remainder of the 2010 Sprint Cup season while he recovers from blood clots.
But we put the "team" in Red Bull Racing Team. The No. 82 and 83 crews - and all personnel in between - banded together and vowed to soldier on, beginning with NASCAR's night of stars Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. No one, however, forgot about the man who helped drive us into the All-Star Race.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: In classy and fitting fashion, Brian Vickers was introduced with Casey Mears on the pre-race stage before Saturday night's All-Star Race. Mears is filling in for his pal Vickers, who received an outstanding ovation from the crowd on hand. "I expect to be back in the car next season and to win the Daytona 500," Vickers said.
82. SCOTT SPEED
LONG WAY TO GO, SHORT TIME TO GET THERE: Speed's finish most likely would have been much better had rain not wiped out Showdown qualifying. On Friday, his No. 82 Red Bull Toyota timed in eighth with four cars still to qualify. But the rain came, and the lineup was set on a blind qualifying draw. So Speed started 18th in the short heat race that granted the top two finishers a berth into the All-Star Race. Speed fought a "silly unstable" handling condition in the first 20-lap segment and climbed to 13th after the first caution and ensuing pit stop. But 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 last year's rookie Showdown finish of 19th.
GRAND THEFT AUTO: "We'll drive it like we stole it for 19 more." - spotter Tim Fedewa to Speed at the start of segment two.
VITAL SIGNS: Entering the 600, Speed ranks 26th - 77 points out of the top 20.
STAT THAT MATTERS: To the untrained eye, the Showdown is insignificant if a driver fails to earn one of the two transfer spots. Not so for Speed, who turned 54 total laps Friday and Saturday - a mini test session of sorts for the 600.
83. CASEY MEARS
NIGHT ENDS IN GARAGE: Friday's qualifying session was rained out, and the No. 83 pit crew never got a chance to shine with a four-tire stop. So Mears started ninth by way of a blind qualifying draw. Saturday night was tough. It started 25 laps in with Mears' No. 83 Red Bull Toyota and Mark Martin's No. 5 making contact while exiting the pits, initiating a left-front tire rub. Then Mears got lapped toward the end of the first segment, but a mandatory caution waved and Mears received the free pass. The middle two 20-lap segments were spent trying to find a balance with adjustments. Mears started the final 10-lap segment 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 retreated to the garage and stayed there, finishing 16th.
STATING THE SIGNIFANCE: "Let's have some fun tonight, boys. This is a big one." - Mears to the No. 83 team on the pace laps.
VITAL SIGNS: At this stage, driver points are almost irrelevant for Mears, who's made only three starts this season. The No. 83's position in owner points, however, means a ton. The car ranks 21st entering the 600.
STAT THAT MATTERS: Mears has performed quite well over the years at 1.5-mile Charlotte. He has four top 10s there and won the 600 in 2007, leading the final six laps for the first and only victory of his Sprint Cup career.
The 600, Sunday, May 30, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.