For the first time in eight months, Brian Vickers got back behind the wheel of a race car yesterday after spending most of the year off with blood clots.
"[Monday] was just a huge weight off of my shoulders, not only for myself, but for the guys on the team," Vickers told NASCAR.com. "There were so many rumors, assumptions and speculations about my health and status for 2011, but [testing] hopefully put all of them to rest."
"It felt damn good to get back in the car. Everything fit. Everything felt right. Everything was just the way I left it last May. Just to fire the car back up was awesome, and then to punch it for the first time was such a great feeling."
Last May, Vickers was diagnosed with blood clots after experiencing discomfort while on a public relations outing. Part of his treatment required blood thinners, which prolonged him getting back behind the wheel.
While Vickers was out of the car, he was replaced by Casey Mears, Reed Sorenson, Mattias Ekstrom, Boris and Kahne.
This was also the first time for Vickers to work with new teammate Kasey Kahne.
"We are here to get more seat time for me and so I can get back in the groove with the road crew," Vickers said. "I don't think we are going to learn anything ground-breaking [Monday], but it's really just a great chance for us all to work together, and the bottom line for me is just to get back in a race car and log some laps."
Kahne was happy about the experience at the test as he said it's crucial to them having a good 2011 season.
"It was good to see Brian back on the track," said Kahne, who was at his first test for Red Bull. "Working with my crew and teammate at the test is important and a good start to a great season. I look forward for more car time to get myself better and working closer with Brian in 2011."
Vickers is scheduled to attend the Daytona International Speedway test later this month.
The 2010 season for Red Bull Racing ended Scott Speed, who was let go at the end of the year, finishing 30th in points with two top 10s, while the No. 83 car finished 25th in owners points with five top 10s.
Red Bull Racing is looking for improvement in 2011 as they will have Vickers driving the No. 83 and Kahne driving the No. 4. Kahne finished 20th in points last season driving for Richard Petty Motorsports with seven top fives and 10 top 10s. In Vickers' last full season on track in 2009, he finished 12th in points with one win, four top fives, 13 top 10s and six poles.
Though most of the focus will be on track for Red Bull Racing, they will also have to look after the lawsuit filed by Speed over how they let him go. Speed is suing for $6.5 million after a breach of contract.
Speed says in his claim that the was unfunded by Red Bull to be able to compete at the Cup level.
SceneDaily goes on to say that "according to the lawsuit, Speed signed a three-year deal in September 2007 for a salary of $300,000 in 2008, $500,000 in 2009 and $1 million in 2010. He would receive 50 percent of prize money for each top-10 finish, 45 percent for finishes 11th-20th and 40 percent of prize money for finishes of 21st or worse."
"In June 2008, the deal was amended to include 2011 at a salary of $1.5 million and options for 2012-2013 at raises of $500,000 annually. In January 2010, the deal was revised to cut Speed's pay from $1 million to $500,000 for 2010, according to the complaint."
Speed adds in the lawsuit that Red Bull picked up Speed's option through 2013 in May 2010, but then broke that promise via firing him on November 23rd. The $6.5 million represents the salary that Speed would have received from 2011-2013.
"They thought it was OK to kick me to the curb and not try to do absolutely anything for me," Speed told Bob Pockrass in a phone interview. "They didn’t want to pay me anything. They didn’t want to help me get into any other kind of ride. Nothing. They were, ‘OK, we’re done with you. Thank you for seven and a half years.’ Honestly, I’m still a little bit shocked over the whole situation.”
The reason behind Speed filing the suit is he is not happy with how Red Bull Racing treated him with regards to the release, but also he needs the money to pay the bills next year via the chance of getting a ride now is slim.