Monday, June 20, 2011

Red Bull out of NASCAR

When you think NASCAR, Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart- Haas Racing and Roush Fenway Racing immediately come to mind; but what about Red Bull Racing?  Unless you’re a Kasey Kahne or Brian Vickers fan, most people have a tendency to forget about this team. 
Red Bull Racing, making its debut in the Cup Series in 2007, didn’t start off of the right foot; Brian Vickers, piloting the No. 83, failed to qualify for thirteen of the thirty-six races (almost a third of the races), salvaging a 38th place finish in the Cup point standings.  That same year, AJ Allmendinger didn’t qualify for nineteen races; finishing 43rd in the Cup point standings.   

In 2008, Jay Frye, the new general manager, was brought in to help salvage the team.  He did, in fact, help save the team.  In late 2008, AJ Allmendinger was released from Red Bull Racing, and was replaced by the ever-so-personable, Scott Speed; who had been recently released from his contract with Red Bull’s Formula One team.   In 2009, Brian Vickers won a race and was eligible for the Cup Series title; improving the team even more.  When in 2010, Vickers suffered from blood clots; the team’s progress seemed to slow down.  Scott Speed, piloting the No. 82, wasn’t having the finishes he wanted, and was let go at the end of the season last year, in breach of his contract. 

This season, in 2011, Kasey Kahne filled Speed’s shoes in the No. 4, having five top-ten finishes, and sitting 19th in points.  Vickers is back in his No. 83, also having five top-ten finishes, but is 24th in points.  Once this season is over, Vickers’ contract is over (he's still searching for a ride) and Kahne will be moving to his new home at Hendrick Motorsports.  As for the Truck Series Rookie of the Year contender, Cole Whitt, nothing is certain for him yet; same goes for the employees at Red Bull Racing. 

So what’s going to happen to this team?  Just like Cole Whitt’s future – not certain.  Frye could have investors buy the team from Red Bull and then help the team grow from there.  Why did this all come about? The owner of Red Bull decided to leave our beloved sport at the end of the season.  How did this news come about? A team official traveled to Michigan Speedway this weekend and told NASCAR leaders yesterday about the looming move.  Food for thought – Red Bull appeals to the younger audiences, especially teens (myself included), that are the future of our sport; so without Red Bull, how many teenagers will still be drawn to the sport even if the reason they started watching NASCAR in the first place isn’t there?    

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