Red Bull Racing: What Not Re-Signing Brain Vickers Will Do

Lee FraserCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - JULY 25:  Brian Vickers, driver of the #83 Red Bull Toyota, sits on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Red Bull Racing has a unique situation.

They are one of two teams (Furniture Row Racing is the other) that is sponsor-owned. This means that Red Bull is it's own sponsor, and therefore puts its own money out, to sponsor the car, and has a budget.

To manage this budget, and watch over the organization, Red Bull owner, Dietrich Mateschitz hired veteran, and well known NASCAR General manager, Jay Frye, to watch over the organization.

Frye started at the beginning of the 2008 season. Red Bull Racing, at the time, had a full season under its belt with drivers Brian Vickers, and A.J. Allmendinger.

Frye came in, and the team immediatly started to turn around.

Vickers started to run better, but A.J. was still struggling.

So Frye hired veteran Mike Skinner to fill in for Allmendinger for four races.

That seemed to do the trick.

A.J. started running better, and looked well on his way, to be one of the sport's rising stars.

Jay did everything he could to try and field a third team for Allmendinger to drive in 2009, so they could bring up rookie Scott Speed, but Mateschitz, wasn't going for it.

They were forced to let Allmendinger go—mistake No. 1.

They brought in, inexpirienced rookie, Scott Speed, to drive what is now the number 82, Toyota Camry—mistake No. 2.

Speed has had an awful rookie season, to say the least.

Speed has failed to qualify for three races this season, after having the car guarenteed a starting spot in the first five races.

Other than a 5th at Talladega, Speed's highest finish this year, is 18th, in the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600.

John Andretti's underfunded Front Row Motorsports team, is higher in owner's points.

Vickers, on the other hand, has had a solid last two seasons.

Early on in 2009, it looked like he, and new crew chief, Ryan Pemberton, needed some time to mesh together.

Recently, it looks like that they have.

Vickers, so far, has five poles. His last three finishes have all been top-10's, and in his last six races, his average finish is about 13th.

Vickers had the fastest car, and probably would've won the Coca-Cola 600, if the rain didn't come, and with sitting on five poles, we know this team is really, really, close to going to victory lane.

But this brings us to Pocono.

Vickers is STILL without a contract for 2010.

Red Bull supposedly are the ones moving slow in the negotiations.

Rumors are, that this team will switch to Chevrolet in 2010.

Red Bull feels that the engines provided by TRD (Toyota Racing Development), are not meant for 500 mile races, and don't last the whole way.

They feel, a switch to Chevy, with engines provided by Hendrick Motorsports, is possibly the best option, moving foreward.

But why would that affect their decision on Vickers, you ask.

Because, current Hendrick Motorsports' developmental driver, Brad Keselowski, is without a cup ride for 2010.

Hendrick wants to keep "Brad K." (for short) in the organization, somehow, so when Mark Martin retires (if he ever does), than Brad can have that seat.

Hendrick has had several attempts on giving Keselowski a cup ride. One rumor, was that Brad would go to Jr. Motorsports, and they would go to the Cup Series.

That rumor was ruled false, by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., himself.

Another had Brad K. going to Stewart Haas Racing in 2010, in possibly a third car, and the Shell/Pennzoil sponsorship.

Shell/Pennzoil, now is probably going to stay where they are with Richard Childress Racing, at least for 2010.

So where will Brad K. go?

The newest rumor, has him headed to Red Bull Racing, in either possibly a third car, or in one of the two existing cars.

Common sense, would have Vickers stay, and have Red Bull shaft out rookie Scott Speed.

But it's not that easy.

Vickers' No. 83 Toyota, is the only car out of the two, guarenteed a starting spot for the first five races of 2010.

Vickers is going to have a hard time giving up those points, because Hendrick will not want Brad K. to have to get in on time.

Plus, Red Bull, has been really commited to Scott Speed.

But like Phil Hellmuth says about poker, "'re never too commited to a hand."

I feel the same way about race drivers.

Let Speed go. But Vickers will still have to get in on time in the 82.

But remember, 2009 is still far from over.

Red Bull, should drop Speed, maybe fund a Nationwide Series car for him, to gain more expirience.

But they need to get rid of him this season.

Who will they hire.

Someone who will get them a guarenteed spot in a race, and that person, being a seasoned veteran, that will get the most out of the car, without getting a DNF.

That person is out there.

Terry Labonte.

"Texas" Terry, has the most recent, available past champion's provisional.

Bill Elliott, is probably not going to do anymore races than the 13 that he's going to do for the Wood Brothers, so he's out of the picture.

But Terry, will race. He hasn't had a car, this good in a while, and is still looking to run some more than the four races he has left with Carter/Simo Racing.

Terry may just be the solution for Red Bull. He may be able to drive by John Andretti's No. 34 car, before the end of the season, and make it into the top-35.

Then everyone would be happy. You could now field a third car for Scott Speed, in 2010, and try and let him get in on time.

Vickers, and Brad K. will have a guarenteed starting spot, and that will satisfy Rick Hendrick.

Mistake No. 3, would be to let Vickers walk.

Vickers has been with Red Bull Racing, since day one.

They have all of his notes on the COT, because he's ran every COT race for them.

Putting Keselowski, who currently only has nine series starts in the COT would be a mistake.

They'd have Keselowski, an unclassified rookie, and Scott Speed who has not had a great 2009.

Red Bull Racing would have to start from scratch, and the last three years would be a waist.

Jay Frye, hire Terry, let Speed sit out the rest of the year, and get two cars with points, because anything else would be a bigger mistake than hiring Speed in the first place.


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