Team Red Bull entered 2009 on a mission, and looked to have things going in the right direction for both of its' teams.
The No. 83 of Brian Vickers was teetering on the edge of Chase contention, and the No. 82 of Scott Speed was inside the top 35 and guaranteed a spot in the race weekly.
Fast forward to May and things are very different for both organizations.
Brian Vickers—No. 83 Red Bull Toyota
A look back: The past few weeks have been tough for Vickers and his No. 83 Toyota team. Once thought to be a contender for the Chase, now Vickers is clinging to a top 20 spot in the standings at 17th.
The Lady In Black was tough on Vickers, who entered the race coming off a 15th-place showing at Richmond the Saturday before.
Vickers brought home a 31st-place showing at Darlington, dropping him back to 17th in the points, 83 points out of 12th.
While it's not over for Vickers by any stretch, he must get things back on track if he wants to be a Chase contender in 2009.
A look ahead: With a couple solid runs, Vickers could place himself back in contention for a Chase berth.
Unfortunately, at the next five tracks (Lowes, Dover, Pocono, Michigan, and Infineon), Vickers has only six top-fives and 11 top-10 finishes in 44 career starts.
Of the six top-fives, four of those have come at Michigan.
This week: Vickers will look to turn his season back around this weekend at the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C.
At Lowes Motor Speedway, Vickers has 10 career starts, with one top-five and one top-10 finish.
His average starting position is 16.9 and his average finishing position is 24.3.
Scott Speed—No. 82 Red Bull Toyota
A look back: Speed has continued to struggle in a team that has seemed to have endless problems since its inception.
Speed missed his second race of the year after a wreck in qualifying at Darlington two weeks ago.
The move cost him greatly in the points, as he entered the weekend on the brink of cracking back into the top 35 after a top-five finish at Talladega.
Leaving Darlington, Speed sits 104 points behind 35th-place in owner points.
While his No. 82 Toyota did not make the race at Darlington, Speed did—however—get behind the wheel of the No. 87 NEMCO Toyota to get valuable laps.
The move will hopefully help the organization when it visits Darlington next year.
A look ahead: Speed's journey back into the top-35 is not over. While making up 104 points will be difficult, if the No. 82 team can put together a solid run or two—and stop missing races—the team could make it back in.
The bad news for Speed is that his inexperience at the next five tracks could cause problems for the rookie.
Speed has only been on the track in a Cup car at one of the upcoming five tracks: Lowe's Motor Speedway, and that was this past weekend's All-Star Showdown, in which he finished 19th.
This week: Speed looks to bounce back from a missed race at Darlington with the stamina-testing Coca-Cola 600 at Lowes Motor Speedway Sunday night.
If Speed can keep himself out of trouble and simply log laps, it could prove to be a major points gain over 35th-place.
(As a tribute to David Phillips and his time here on B/R, I have asked him if I could take over his weekly series Full of Bull. I, of course, was hoping David would stay on board and do the series himself, but he has decided—for various reasons—to part from the B/R community.)