+ WHERE AND WHEN TO RACE Strategy 1: Qualify up front, stay and finish there. Avoid the Big One. Strategy 2: Qualify somewhere else, draft to the front immediately, stay and finish there. Avoid the Big One. Strategy 3: Qualify somewhere else,...
+ WHERE AND WHEN TO RACE
Strategy 1: Qualify up front, stay and finish there. Avoid the Big One.
Strategy 2: Qualify somewhere else, draft to the front immediately, stay and finish there. Avoid the Big One.
Strategy 3: Qualify somewhere else, drift to the back, wait until there's 40 laps go, draft to the front, stay and finish there. Avoid the Big One.
Brian Vickers chooses strategy No. 1.
"I don't like to drop to the back," Vickers said. "I've tried that before. It just doesn't suit me. There's something about riding in the back I don't like. The best place to avoid the wreck is leading."
Vickers qualified eighth, led four laps and finished fifth in the April visit to Talladega Superspeedway a track notorious for multi-car wrecks. Vickers earned his first Sprint Cup victory in October 2006 at Talladega and has finished in the top six in four of his eight starts there.
"The track's treated me well and treated this team well," said Vickers, who finished 15th Sunday at Kansas. "We're excited to go back, but it's still Talladega. You can't let your guard down. A lot of things can happen there that are out of your control. You just do your part the best you can and hope the rest of it avoids you."
Veteran NASCAR driver Mike Skinner replaces AJ Allmendinger in the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota for two events before Scott Speed takes over Oct. 17 at Martinsville. Skinner has made 15 Cup starts at the 2.66-mile, restrictor-plate track, with a best finish of second in April 2000. He drove the No. 84 in five races earlier this season.
"Very mentally draining," Skinner said of racing at Talladega. "The physical side is minimal compared to the mental part of it. If you ride around in the back all day to stay out of trouble, you can find trouble. If you ride in the middle of the pack, you can find trouble. I've been wrecked from the front, from the back it doesn't matter. You focus and do your very best job and take what it gives you."
The No. 84 sits 33rd in the car owner standings 89 points out of the red after Allmendinger's career-best ninth-place finish at Kansas.
+ GUZZLING GAS
Stretching fuel mileage has taken on new meaning these days around Charlotte, N.C. Getting gas means getting in line, oftentimes squeezing into a 25-car draft that spills out onto the street.
The current national average is $3.61 a gallon. Charlotte has partly been in gridlock with some pumps pushing $4.19. Residents are taking the bus and bumming rides because even the next station's "93" pumps carry a grocery bag.
Consider these numbers relating to NASCAR:
A Talladega car holds 19 gallons of gas. Cars can complete 34 laps (90.6 miles) before refueling, with six stops anticipated in Sunday's 500-miler. Between practice, qualifying and the race, about 135 gallons will be consumed per piece. That amount translates into a Charlotte street value of $540, even though Sunoco supplies the fuel at no charge to NASCAR teams.
+ TWO RACES, 500 MILES
Scott Speed, in the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota, will make his Sprint Cup debut Oct. 11 at Charlotte - the same weekend he attempts to clinch the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship at Toledo. Then he'll take the wheel of the No. 84 for the final five races of the Sprint Cup season.
But first thing's first.
He holds a 65-point lead over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the ARCA championship entering Friday's race at Talladega. He'll also drive Bill Davis Racing's No. 22 Red Bull Toyota in Saturday's Craftsman Truck event.
Speed's ARCA debut came last October at Talladega.
"Talladega is one of those places where you run probably the closest with people for the longest amount of time," he said. "In practice and qualifying it's pretty boring, but I'm really excited to go back there and race because that was my very first ARCA race."
Speed, 25, was stranded in eighth place when ARCA officials called Sunday's road race in New Jersey because of rain.
+ WHATEVER WE CAN DO TO HELP
Scott Speed will partake in the Goodyear tire test Monday through Wednesday at Indianapolis. It was ugly the last time NASCAR visited the Brickyard in July, as Eagle tires lasted for about five or six laps before white cords imbedded in the rubber began to show.
Mike Skinner, driver, No. 84: "The core of the team is a lot stronger than it was when I was in the car before. I'm really pumped up. I feel like we have a chance to really be competitive. The car finished in the top 10 last week. Jimmy Elledge has been a great addition to that race team. I hate that things didn't work out with AJ (Allmendinger), but that's the nature of our business. AJ's future is bright. They're not going to let a guy like that sit on the sidelines."
Scott Speed, driver, No. 82: "What I'm most excited about is how much the team has progressed forward because now I'm getting into that Red Bull car and we're in the top 35 and fighting for top 10s. To be able to wait until the right time for the team to develop, for me to develop has been really the right decision. Now we're going to a track (Charlotte) that we have a chance to get a really good finish."