Darlington: Red Bull Racing preview

DARLINGTON'S FAVORITE SON For a kid growing up in Darlington - Maryland, that is - racing wasn't even on the radar. "We were starved for racing in that area," said Rick Viers, a Darlington, Md., native and crew chief of the No. 84. "All they...

For a kid growing up in Darlington - Maryland, that is - racing wasn't even on the radar.

"We were starved for racing in that area," said Rick Viers, a Darlington, Md., native and crew chief of the No. 84. "All they knew was horse racing. Growing up in junior high and high school, all you got was maybe 30 minutes of 'Wide World Of Sports.' You couldn't even find a paragraph about racing in the newspaper."

The landscape of Viers' Darlington and that of Darlington, S.C., are similar - a stop light or two, an elementary school here and a convenience store there. But Darlington, Md., doesn't have a Lady in Black.

Saturday night's Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway - located three states below Viers' hometown in the sand hills of South Carolina - is just another race for a guy who wore the first of many hats as a team owner and driver in the 1984 NASCAR Mid-Atlantic Region. After three years perfecting his on-track performance, Viers went on to win four races and the crown of Old Dominion Speedway track champion.

He jumped ship to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1988, following his heart to a tin-top racing career that has spanned two decades. His move to North Carolina fueled stints with seven top Cup and Nationwide teams and led to work alongside two of the sport's greatest racers - Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon.

"Nobody knew anything about stock car racing," Viers said. "It used to be that you were an outsider. Now everybody is wearing T-shirts and hats that show support for stock car racing. When you used to talk racing back home people thought, 'What is that?' But the mindset has changed a lot since then."

The crew chief on Red Bull Racing Team's No. 84 has an appreciation for "Speed Racer." The driver? Not so much.

"I watched a little bit of 'Speed Racer' growing up, but I can't say I was a fanatic," AJ Allmendinger said. "I'm not going to lie - I was more of a 'Scooby Doo' and 'Flintstones' type of guy. But I know if you talk to Ricky Viers, he was a huge 'Speed Racer' fanatic." Indeed.

"Everyday I'd come home and watch 'Speed Racer' after school while I was doing my homework. That way, I could watch more TV later on," Viers said. "I remember 'Speed Racer.' I'm an old timer, but I remember watching it. I loved watching 'Speed Racer' when I was growing up."

"Speed Racer" hits theaters Friday.

Ramona Vickers hasn't missed her son race on Mother's Day weekend since Brian Vickers broke into the Nationwide Series in 2002. Six years later, Ramona, with Brian at her side, will walk the pre-race stage at Darlington Raceway as NASCAR recognizes the moms who helped make it all possible for their sons.

"All you want is for your child to be successful, and every mother wants their child to be happy," Ramona Vickers said. "I'm so proud of Brian - his actions, what he says, how he drives. I supported him in whatever he chose to do, and he chose NASCAR."

There have been times where a mother's instinct kicks in.

"He's made us nervous a little bit," she said, "but as you progress in your career, there's a little more protection as far as safety. I'm more worried about who's around him (in traffic), but I think he's sometimes safer in the race car as he is out on the streets. I feel confident that the team is on its game with safety."

For the record, Brian is quite the qualifier on Mother's Day weekend. In the past three races at the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval, Brian has timed in fifth, eighth and, most recently in the No. 83, 15th.

The No. 83, driven by Brian Vickers, fought a tight condition throughout the Dan Lowry 400. Not once did Brian feel comfortable in his car at Richmond, and his night was ruined when the No. 15 pinched him into the wall on lap 219. Brian limped home in 28th, and he now sits 17th in the driver standings. He's 89 points out of the top 12.

Teammate AJ Allmendinger ran well in the early stages at Richmond, but an encounter with rookie Michael McDowell and ensuing spin sent AJ to a 39th-place finish. The No. 84 sits 40th in the car owner standings - 185 points out of the top 35.

Scott Speed never got the chance to conquer "The Rock." He never got the chance to challenge it, either.

Driving Eddie Sharp Racing's No. 2 Red Bull Toyota, Scott was collected in a multi-car incident on lap 10 of Sunday's Carolina 500 at Rockingham Speedway. From there, it became an afternoon of just riding around and collecting points. Scott's 35th-place finish dropped him to eighth in the ARCA driver standings, and he's now 220 points out of the championship heading into Saturday's race at Kentucky Speedway.

"Unfortunately, we were caught up in the first big mess of the day and just did what we could to lose as few points as possible," Scott said. "We'll put this behind us and look forward to Kentucky next weekend."

-credit: rbr

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About this article
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Michael McDowell , Scott Speed , Brian Vickers
Teams Red Bull Racing