HIS WORLD VS. OUR WORLD: TALE OF THE TAPE: Mattias Ekstrom, a 32-year-old Red Bull-backed touring car driver from Sweden, will drive the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota at Richmond. He comes from a distant land, driving a foreign car at a foreign ...
HIS WORLD VS. OUR WORLD: TALE OF THE TAPE: Mattias Ekstrom, a 32-year-old Red Bull-backed touring car driver from Sweden, will drive the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota at Richmond. He comes from a distant land, driving a foreign car at a foreign track. Richmond, however, is only half a NASCAR race away for us.
82. SCOTT SPEED
THAR SHE BLOWS: It took a television replay for Scott Speed to truly believe his No. 82 Red Bull Toyota was on fire Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "Wow, I guess we were on fire," he said. The engine gave up on lap 265, and as Speed peeled onto pit road the car left a long and thick trail of smoke and flames. He went from what looked to be a certain top-20 finish to a 34th-place result.
3 + 2: Speed doesn't have much of a history at the .75-mile, D-shaped oval called Richmond International Raceway. He's made three starts in the Sprint Cup car, with three top-20 qualifying efforts but finishes of 33rd, 36th and 35th. He also drove in two Nationwide races in 2009, earning a 10th-place finish in September.
VITAL SIGNS: Ranks 27th in the driver standings -- 139 points behind 26th-place Brad Keselowski.
RALLY KILLER: Two engine failures in the past four races have robbed Speed of all momentum. You know about Atlanta (see above), and on Aug. 8 at Watkins Glen the engine failed in the early going, stripping Speed of what was then a top-10 running position.
83. MATTIAS EKSTROM
HARD-FOUGHT 14TH: Reed Sorenson, crew chief Jimmy Elledge and the entire team had to work for the No. 83's second-straight top-15 finish Sunday night at Atlanta. The No. 83 Red Bull Toyota went a lap down on lap 64 but got the free pass on lap 265. Sorenson picked up a few positions in the closing laps to finish 14th.
THE SWEDE ON RIR: "It will be interesting to get back to the feeling of more power and a heavier car with no downforce. To do a race on an oval is something different, that is for sure. It is a lot of laps; it's a lot of cars. I'm pretty sure I will have to learn a lot of things very quick if I want to do good, which I want to do. I think it will be one of the biggest tasks of my life so far, but I feel I am ready for it. I have a good feeling with the team, and let's see what we can do." -- Ekstrom
VITAL SIGNS: The No. 83 sits 26th in owner points.
UNRELATED NOTE: No. 83 driver Brian Vickers has fond memories of Richmond. He holds the track qualifying record there (129.983 mph, May 14, 2004) and won another pole last spring. Oh, and last fall Vickers raced his way into the Chase at Richmond.
NO RICH HISTORY AT RICHMOND Scott Speed is entering his fourth Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway and the 66th of his Cup career. For Mattias Ekstrom ... well, that's a different story. The Red Bull-backed touring car driver has one Cup start under his belt -- a 21st-place finish in June at Infineon -- but he's never raced on an oval.