+ ONE SHORT TRACK TO ANOTHER ... One Red Bull Toyota has safely joined the other in the top 35, and both are lurking outside the top 12. The state of the 82 and 83 entering Martinsville: 82 . SCOTT SPEED POP, THEN POW: A cut tire was the...
+ ONE SHORT TRACK TO ANOTHER ... One Red Bull Toyota has safely joined the other in the top 35, and both are lurking outside the top 12. The state of the 82 and 83 entering Martinsville:
82 . SCOTT SPEED
POP, THEN POW: A cut tire was the culprit at Bristol. With 25 laps to go, Speed was closing in on his fourth top-20 finish in five races. Then came the boom from the right-front tire. After that came the smack from the outside wall. The damage was severe enough that Speed retreated to the garage as the No. 82 team fixed a brake rotor. He returned to the track and finished 20 laps down in 31st, easily his worst showing of the season.
VITAL SIGNS: Fell seven spots to 18th in points. Speed's 49 points out of the top 12, but his No. 82 has a 210-point cushion on the top 35.
YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR FIRST: Martinsville carries special significance for Speed. On Oct. 19, 2008, Speed drove in his first Sprint Cup race in the No. 84, starting 35th and finishing 30th. That, unfortunately, is his best finish in three starts at NASCAR's shortest track.
STAY THE COURSE: "I don't think we're going to change anything. We're going to continue to sort of aim for top-20 finishes and try to stay out of all the crashes."
STAT THAT MATTERS: Speed has spent 18.7 percent of his laps in the top 15. At this point last season, that number was only 3.0.
83 . BRIAN VICKERS
TAKE A TOP 15 AND RUN: On lap 341 at Bristol, Vickers was part of a 13-car accident in turn three. The field checked up and BV was rear-ended by the 6, leaving parts and pieces dragging on the concrete. The No. 83 team pitted four times under caution, fixed the damage and restarted 23rd. Vickers rallied to finish 15th his second-best showing at the bullring.
VITAL SIGNS: Improved two spots to 14th in points. A Chaser in 2009, BV is only 17 points from the top 12 and 37 from eighth.
SOMETHING ABOUT SHORT TRACKS: Bristol has never been Vickers' best track (average finish of 23.9), and neither has Martinsville (AF of 21.4). But Vickers has twice finished 11th in four races with Red Bull Racing Team.
HIS HANDS ARE FULL: "The thing about Martinsville is that it has all three of the biggest components that these types of cars hate accelerating 3,500 pounds, stopping 3,500 pounds and turning in a tight radius 3,500 pounds. These cars aren't built to do anything well, especially those three things."
STAT THAT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER: Martinsville is a close second to Charlotte Motor Speedway when it comes to Vickers' "home" track. Charlotte's about 60 miles from BV's hometown of Thomasville; Martinsville about 65.
+ SPOILER TEST: TAKE TWO
The Sprint Cup Series concluded a two-day spoiler test Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The thoughts of our two drivers:
82 . SCOTT SPEED: "We're trying as much as we can with the spoiler. When you're at a test like this and you can take data off the car, for us, we try as many things as we can. I like the cars by themselves. I think the racing is going to be a little more difficult. But by themselves, they're nicer to drive. The car is just snugger and has a little more grip. Clearly it's faster, but I think you're going to see a little bit bigger split when you have to race right behind people in a big pack. I think that's going to get a little more dicey than it was with the wing."
83 . BRIAN VICKERS: "The cars turn a little bit better. There's more side force with some of the added features that they've put on there the plates going down the rear deck lid and the extensions on the rear quarter panels. All the way around, I think it's a better race car. It's definitely improved the drivability of the car."