No. 83 crew chief Ryan Pemberton looks at the season-opening Shootout in two ways. One: Saturday's race at Daytona International Speedway is all about pride, prestige and padding the wallet. Two: the all-star event, coupled with any prior ...
No. 83 crew chief Ryan Pemberton looks at the season-opening Shootout in two ways.
One: Saturday's race at Daytona International Speedway is all about pride, prestige and padding the wallet.
Two: the all-star event, coupled with any prior practice laps, equals a test session of sorts for the Great American Race - the Feb. 14 Daytona 500.
"It's a go-for-broke race, but it's a test session, too," said Pemberton, in his second season as Brian Vickers' crew chief. "That track is not getting any better with age. It's not a bottle of wine. The racing, I think, is getting better, but the track is getting worse. So I think it makes for a really good race. You're going to have to handle and have your stuff right. You just line everything up to see where you really stack up going into the 500."
Vickers became eligible for the Shootout when he qualified for the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup. His best finish in four Shootout starts was eighth in 2007, which just so happened to be the first competitive laps run by a Red Bull Toyota.
He expects a race full of excitement. NASCAR recently loosened its grip on a few rules - namely the size of the restrictor plates used at Daytona as well as the governing body's hall-monitor approach to policing bump drafting.
"The Shootout pits all the best drivers at Daytona together in one race. And everyone will be going for one thing - the win," Vickers said. "I like the direction the sport is heading in. NASCAR wants us to be ourselves on the track - race hard - and don't plan to baby sit' us as much while bump drafting. It is going to be great and make for one hell of a race."
Twenty-eight drivers are eligible for the 75-lap race, which will be divided into 25- and 50-lap segments with a 10-minute stop in between. One of those drivers is veteran racer Ken Schrader. The 54-year-old from Fenton, Mo., will drive Scott Speed's No. 82 Red Bull Toyota. Speed is not eligible for the Shootout, but Schrader is based on back-to-back victories in the event in 1989-90. Schrader has competed in 18 Shootouts - fourth most in history.
Speed will drive the No. 82 during Friday's two Daytona 500 practice sessions, as well as 500 qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
"Kenny's a well-respected race car driver and is deserving of a being in the Shootout for his accomplishments of winning it and his accomplishments at Daytona," said Jimmy Elledge, the No. 82 crew chief. "With the lack of testing that we have, when you get an opportunity to take a veteran guy like Kenny and go down there and maybe try a couple things for the 500 that race is beneficial. It's a fun event. You're going out there to win."
A random draw at 8 p.m. ET Thursday will determine the starting lineup for the Shootout.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 was bumped up a day and will take place hours before Saturday's Shootout. Last season, Scott Speed qualified the No. 82 in the 17th spot (186.842 mph). His teammate, Brian Vickers, timed in 33rd (185.858 mph). Both drivers were locked into the 500, but that's not the case this season. While Vickers is already in, Speed doesn't have that luxury and must qualify or race his way in through one of two Duel qualifying races Feb. 11.
For Scott Speed and Brian Vickers, Europe became the buffer zone between the holiday season and Speedweeks.
Both of Red Bull Racing Team's drivers made their way in January to Red Bull's headquarters in Austria, as well as attending the annual Hahnenkamm World Cup ski race in nearby Kitzbuhel. Of course, the trip wasn't all business as each got to satisfy some of their personal interests.
Speed, who turned 27 on Jan. 24, visited his old home in Fuschl Am See, Austria, where he lived while driving a Formula One car for Red Bull's Scuderia Toro Rosso team. An extensive archive of social networking proved just how much Speed misses Austria. He tweeted his fondness for the metric system while wolfing down a "Hamburger Royal TS" - commonly known as McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese around these parts. He and wife Amanda later hopped a train to Paris for a sightseeing tour that took them 8.35 miles on foot.
"Austria was a blast," Speed said. "We saw the Hahnenkamm, which is like the Indy 500 of World Cup skiing. I did a snowmobile race with 16 other Red Bull athletes. I also got the chance to show Amanda my old home in Fuschl Am See, as well as the home of Red Bull, which is amazing might I add."
During his stay across the pond, Vickers palled around with former F1 driver David Coulthard and together they hit the Mercedes F1 launch, shopped at the Hugo Boss factory and then headed for London. Coulthard, a winner of 13 grands prix and current consultant with Red Bull Racing F1, showed BV around Red Bull's F1 facility outside London in Milton Keynes.
"It was my first visit wow, what an impressive facility," Vickers said. "I was also able to get a lot of work done for Red Bull, including some charity stuff for Wings for Life. David and I have been friends for a while now, and any time I'm in Europe we try to get together. Overall it was an amazing trip. It always is. Now I'm ready to get back to racing."