Bristol Motor Speedway has evolved in the short time Brian Vickers has been a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. When Brian broke into Cup in 2004, Bristol was a rigid, one-groove bullring, but the track hasn't been the same since a smooth repaving project...
Bristol Motor Speedway has evolved in the short time Brian Vickers has been a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. When Brian broke into Cup in 2004, Bristol was a rigid, one-groove bullring, but the track hasn't been the same since a smooth repaving project after the 2007 spring race.
"Guys can now run the bottom, the top, the middle - they can race," he said.
Despite multiple grooves, Bristol still requires loads of calculation and tons of nerve.
"You learn what moves you can make and when you can make them," Brian said. "It's basically managing risk. Risk versus reward - every lap, every turn. You've got to be aggressive and take some opportunities. But at the same time, it's a small race track and accidents happen, and they happen often."
Brian's No. 83 Red Bull Toyota earned the team's first pole last weekend at Michigan and finished seventh in the race. He moved from 17th to 15th in the driver standings - 166 points out of the top 12 with three races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins Sept. 14 at New Hampshire.
He'll also compete in Friday night's Nationwide Series event in the No. 10 Braun Racing Toyota.
The first Sprint Cup start of AJ Allmendinger's career came at Bristol. He remembers little from the 2007 spring race other than, "I hit the wall a lot - in qualifying and the race," he said.
AJ's No. 84 Red Bull Toyota rolled off 43rd in both 2007 races, and he quickly felt pressure from the leaders in about 10 laps.
"We need to do a better job in qualifying, because if you start in the back those guys are on you in no time," AJ said. "They're all over you before you even get into a rhythm, and you fall a lap down. You can't fall a lap down at Bristol. Now that it's been repaved, when you're trying to pass somebody, you can go high or low and make room for yourself."
AJ finished 28th at Michigan and sits 36th in the car owner standings - 13 points out of the top 35.
Safely navigating around Bristol is one of the great mysteries of Scott Speed's initial foray into oval-track racing. Luckily, he has veteran Bill Davis Racing teammates Johnny Benson and Mike Skinner to lean on, because Scott makes his first Craftsman Truck Series start on the .533-mile oval Wednesday night.
"I'm kind of relying on them to get the lowdown," said Scott, who hasn't driven BDR's No. 22 Red Bull Toyota since June's third-place finish at Michigan. "Mike and Johnny have probably run there more than anyone in the series, so they know the track well. I just hope that I adapt quickly. It should be a lot of fun and if we are there in the end, we'll see what we can do."
On the ARCA RE/MAX Series side, Scott finished eighth Sunday on the 1-mile dirt track in Springfield, Ill. It was his 13th top 10 of the season, and he holds a 110-point lead over second-place Matt Carter in the championship standings.
"It was just dirty," Scott said of Springfield. "By the end of the race, through (turns) three and four, you couldn't see anything. I'm cool with having to do that once in my life, but I'll do it one more time for good measure."
Crumpled car parts and sheet metal straight from damaged Red Bull Toyotas will be up for bid during Thursday's Eastman Motorsports Club Memorabilia Auction, which will benefit the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities.
The auction will include a console table constructed with a raw piece of AJ Allmendinger's Darlington car - stripe and all. It was built by artist Preston Farabow, who "bends metal for a living" while creating custom items and furniture out of his studio in Knoxville, Tenn.
In 2004, Preston began creating artwork for Red Bull's Indy car team. He's also designed trophies for the Red Bull Air Race World Series and the Red Bull Soap Box races, as Red Bull gives latitude to let the inspiration come to him (www.aespyre.com).
The auction opens at 5 p.m. in Bristol's Bruton Smith Building (near gate five), with bidding to begin at 6.