REMEMBERING OUR MOTOR CITY MILESTONE Red Bull Racing Team's first points-paying race in NASCAR's premier series came on Feb. 25, 2007. And 903 days later, Brian Vickers finally broke into the winner's circle with a victory in August 2009 race ...
REMEMBERING OUR MOTOR CITY MILESTONE
Red Bull Racing Team's first points-paying race in NASCAR's premier series came on Feb. 25, 2007. And 903 days later, Brian Vickers finally broke into the winner's circle with a victory in August 2009 race at Michigan International Speedway.
That victory - our first and only - came at the most critical of times, as the win helped launch Vickers and the No. 83 team into the Chase. So for us, our first trip back to the site of it all is a time for reflection.
"We've put together some good races, but not a great race," Vickers said that day, after his second career Sprint Cup victory. "We haven't sealed the deal. Today we finally did. It's a big weight off our shoulders. I know it is off of mine. I just can't say how proud I am of everybody."
Vickers, who started from the pole for the third consecutive race at Michigan, had just enough fuel to make it to the finish, as his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota ran dry after burnouts on the infield grass.
MOTORING ON TO MICHIGAN
Red Bull Racing's No. 82 team is representing the Wolverine State quite well in the Sprint Cup Series. Returning home this weekend, or at least close to it, are rear tire carrier Jake Brzozowski (Sterling Heights, Mich.), race engineer Dave Elenz (Gaylord, Mich.) and spotter Tim Fedewa (Holt, Mich.).
Scott Speed and Casey Mears are not from Michigan California rather but here's the latest on our two drivers entering Sunday's Heluva Good! 400 at Michigan.
82. SCOTT SPEED
SIXTH TOP 20 OF 2010: Speed climbed to as high as seventh with 30 laps to go Sunday at Pocono Raceway before brushing the wall as he moved to the outside of the No. 24. The damage didn't require a pit stop, but the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota's handling was never the same. He lost more than a dozen spots on a lap-179 restart and dropped outside the top 30, but he snuck through the "big one" on the white-flag lap to improve to 20th his best finish in three Pocono starts.
HIGHS AND WOES: First the good news: Speed has had his share of success at Michigan. On back-to-back June afternoons in 2008, Speed started first and finished fourth in an ARCA race. A day later, he started fifth and finished third in the Camping World Truck Series. Now the bad news: in the Cup car last June, Speed retreated to the garage on lap 126 so the team could repair a broken gear. He returned to the track 24 laps later running 38th and finished 37th. Last fall, as pit stops cycled through in the closing stages, Speed's No. 82 was on the same strategy as most of the front- runners. The strategy just missed, however, as Speed slipped into the 20s and eventually ran out of fuel on the last lap. He finished 34th.
VITAL SIGNS: Ranks 26th in the driver standings 152 points out of 20th.
STAT THAT MATTERS: Speed's average start in two Michigan races is 16.0, which ranks fifth on his list. First are Chicago/Homestead (2.0), followed by Kansas (10.0), Richmond (13.3) and Bristol/California (14.3).
83. CASEY MEARS
23RD TO 23RD: Mears finished where he started Sunday at Pocono Raceway, in 23rd. He had a run-in with another car, as contact with the No. 19 caused his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota to make an unwanted detour through the infield grass. He made three pit stops from laps 159-164 and soon got the free pass to return to the lead lap. Like his teammate Scott Speed, Mears slowed down in time to avoid a wicked last-lap wreck and emerged unscathed.
83 RULES MIS WITH IRON FIST: For Friday's opening practice, Mears will climb into a car that's practically owned 2-mile Michigan in recent years. In the No. 83's six Michigan races since 2007, the car has finished ninth or better five times including Brian Vickers' victory in August 2009. The No. 83 has won the past three poles, never started worse than 18th and has led 88 laps. The new driver ain't too shabby, either. Mears has one top five, three top 10s and nine top 20s in 14 Michigan starts. He finished second in an August 2006 Nationwide race and won an ARCA event there in June 2003.
VITAL SIGNS: The No. 83 ranks 24th in owner points.
STAT THAT MATTERS: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Mears has completed the fourth-most green-flag passes (769) in the past 10 races at Michigan. And nearly a quarter of those passes came on the frontstretch. So for those No. 83 fans debating whether to attend Sunday's race, be sure to purchase tri-oval seating.
RED BULL RACING TEAM TEARING (AND TEEING) IT UP: No. 83 driver Casey Mears helped turned New Hampshire Motor Speedway into a driving school and driving range during Monday's Winner's Circle stop in Loudon to help promote the June 25-27 Lenox Industrial Tools 300. Duramed FUTURES Tour golfers Briana Vega, Susan Choi and Chelsea Curtis helped Mears sharpen his swing, and later Mears showed the ladies what his world is all about. He took them and local media members for a ride around a special training course in the speedway's parking lot.