+ FOUR DOWN, 32 TO GO We paused and reflected during the off week. Let's reset the first 11 percent of the Sprint Cup Series season: 82. SCOTT SPEED DURING DOWN TIME, I: Took a road trip to the NHRA Gatornationals in Florida. Golfed. Visited...
+ FOUR DOWN, 32 TO GO
We paused and reflected during the off week. Let's reset the first 11 percent of the Sprint Cup Series season:
82. SCOTT SPEED
DURING DOWN TIME, I: Took a road trip to the NHRA Gatornationals in Florida. Golfed. Visited the hair salon for a black dye job with blue chunks. Made a guest judge appearance at the Red Bull 3Style competition in Charlotte.
VITAL SIGNS: Tied for 11th in points. He's never been higher, sits 206 points ahead of 35th place in the car owner standings and owns 226 more points than at this stage one year ago.
BIG MOMENT: A strong and consistent start to his second Sprint Cup season. Speed has finishes of 19th, 11th, 22nd and 10th. He's led 19 laps - matching his total from all of last year - and the top 10 at Atlanta is the best finish of his career at a track that doesn't require restrictor plates.
BAD MOMENT: A 22nd-place finish at Las Vegas. "If our bad days are 22nd, then we're doing something good," he said. Speed ended up one lap down - the only lap he's failed to complete.
GRIP'S HIS THING: Speed's taken quite a liking to Bristol's concrete high banks. The first time he ever saw the .533-mile track he won the pole and finished third in the 2008 Camping World Truck race. In round two, he finished eighth in the Nationwide race. Rounds three and four came in Sprint Cup, where he's qualified 11th and third with a best finish of 15th in October 2009.
THE HELL WITH THE HILL: The No. 82 is one race away from a guaranteed spot in the top 35, meaning the team can have stress-free qualifying days beginning with the March 28 race at Martinsville. And if all goes as planned, never again will the No. 82 crew have to make the uphill trek to Bristol's overflow lot for team transporters.
83 BRIAN VICKERS
DURING DOWN TIME, I: Went skiing with some friends in Aspen and Jackson Hole. Wondered why some people prefer to exercise in the gym rather than outdoors.
VITAL SIGNS: Ranked 16th in points. But the 2009 Chase participant is only 16 points out of the top 12.
BIG MOMENT: Lap 332 at Atlanta. A multi-car wreck unfolded just ahead of Vickers during an attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. He couldn't see anything through the smoke and described it as "straight up Days of Thunder," but spotter Chris Lambert helped guide him through. What could have been disastrous turned into a seventh-place finish - Vickers' first top 10 of the season.
BAD MOMENT: A 31st-place finish at Las Vegas. BV described the race as perhaps the No. 83 team's worst in three-plus years.
BULLRING BITES BACK: Bristol has never been particularly kind to Vickers. In 11 starts, he has six finishes of 20th or better. The other five times, he's ended up 29th or worse. Bristol is one of five tracks on the Sprint Cup schedule where Vickers has failed to record a top 10 (Texas, Darlington, Infineon and Homestead).
CENTURY MARK: Vickers will make his 100th start in a Red Bull Toyota on Sunday. BV and Red Bull Racing Team were part of Toyota's inaugural driver/team lineup in 2007. Since then, Vickers has earned one win (Michigan, August 2009), eight top-five finishes, 24 top 10s and seven poles. He was also the first driver in Toyota's freshman class to earn a spot in the Chase.
+ TO THE CAR GOES THE SPOILER
Brian Vickers was one of three drivers to record a fast lap above 200 mph during Tuesday's spoiler test at Talladega Superspeedway, though reports say speeds sometimes eclipsed 210 mph. His lap of 200.163 mph in the afternoon drafting session was third best, while teammate Scott Speed - driving a second No. 83 - was 20th of 25 cars (197.602).
During the test, NASCAR decreased the size of restrictor plates and later asked teams to shave down the traditional spoiler, which is expected to replace the rear wing for the March 26-28 weekend at Martinsville.
"The test went well. We tried several different packages," Vickers said. "The racing was great different, but great. I commend NASCAR for trying new things. I feel like the package we ended with was better than the package we started with.
"We plan to see a great race (in April) - a very strategic race - and a lot of three- and four-wide racing. It will definitely make for a great race from the fans' perspective."
-source: red bull racing team