+ FAITH IN THE MEN ABOVE The spotters picked the holes. Brian Vickers and Scott Speed trusted the call and drove right through as both Red Bull Toyotas finished in the top 10 for the second time in three-plus years of Sprint Cup...
+ FAITH IN THE MEN ABOVE
The spotters picked the holes. Brian Vickers and Scott Speed trusted the call and drove right through as both Red Bull Toyotas finished in the top 10 for the second time in three-plus years of Sprint Cup racing.
Vickers survived two overtime restarts and 16 extra laps to finish seventh in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 - 525, really - at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Not far behind was Speed, whose 10th-place finish was his best at a track not named Talladega.
The defining moment that gave Red Bull Racing Team its third-best combined result in history came on lap 332 - NASCAR's first attempt at a green-white- checkered finish. Jamie McMurray had a smoky spin in turns three and four and collected five other cars. Right behind the mess in 14th and 15th were Vickers and Speed, and both made evasive maneuvers with the guidance their respective spotters. Chris Lambert sent Vickers up high near the wall, and Tim Fedewa helped Speed dive to the apron below.
Speed predicted the restart was going to be "a cluster," and after the smoke cleared Vickers countered with, "That was straight up Days of Thunder." But both cars made it through unscathed, and eventually the field strung together two clean laps to the checkered flag.
Vickers posted his first top 10 of the season, third in a row at Atlanta and fifth in the past six races there. He's finished in the top 10 in half of his 14 starts at the 1.54-mile track.
Sunday's result helped ease the frustration from the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota's dismal 31st-place showing a week earlier at Las Vegas. Vickers climbed to 16th in the standings and is only 14 points from the top 12.
"That was pretty wild," Vickers said. "We were OK today, we weren't great. We started out really good and then as everybody else got better we just couldn't seem to make any gains. At one point we probably made it a little bit worse but then by the end of the race I think we figured out how to make the car a little better. We found some gains this week that made us a lot better than last week, but we still need a little bit more."
Speed couldn't hide his emotion after the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota crossed the stripe in 10th, his best finish since running fifth at Talladega in April 2009. And Sunday continued Speed's strong start to his sophomore season. He owns finishes of 19th, 11th, 22nd and 10th, and is tied with Jeff Gordon for 11th in points.
"Wooooo Great job. Freaking awesome," he said over the radio. "Really, really great. Holy crap. Unbelievable. So proud of everyone. What an effort."
Out of the car, Speed was calm enough to produce a more in-depth take on his day. "We kind of had to dog fight our way up there," Speed said. "We were running sort of between 10th and 15th the last half of the race. To be dog fighting up there and to be able to scrounge and make really big aggressive moves on my part and to be able to see the thing go forward, that is huge for us. This top 10 means a lot.
"I'm so happy with all of the progress we've all made, and I know how much still I have to learn so I'm really optimistic for the future."
The Sprint Cup Series enters its first off weekend of the season before returning to action March 19-21 at Bristol.
-source: red bull racing team