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Team Red Bull is on the rise, while at the same time taking steps backwards as well.
The team that fields two Toyota Camrys in the Sprint Cup Series has two completely different scenarios brewing.
On one side, Brian Vickers (former driver of the No. 25 at Hendrick Motorsports), is in contention for a Chase berth, sitting 11th after a top-five finish at Atlanta this past weekend.
Vickers appeared to be a challenger for the win on Sunday, but had his chances ended when a late caution came out when Robby Gordon blew a tire. The caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, and Vickers’ car was stronger on the long runs.
In the end, Vickers brought home a fifth-place finish, giving him his third top-10 finish in a row since being taken out in the Daytona 500 and finishing 39th.
Vickers is going to win this year, and I have no doubt he is setting himself up to make the Chase in his third year with Team Red Bull.
On the other side, rookie Scott Speed is struggling to find “speed,” and sits 37th in points, 30 points behind 35th-place HMS driver Mark Martin. (Yes... Mark Martin!)
At one point during Sunday’s race, Speed had made his way into the top 35 in points. That was before (yet another) accident ended his day early.
So far this season, Speed has finishes of 35th at Daytona, 41st at California, 21st at Las Vegas and 35th at Atlanta.
Speed has one more race to get himself inside the top 35, or he will be forced to qualify his way in when the Series heads to Martinsville in three weeks, not to mention be relegated to a parking spot for his rig outside the half-mile paperclip track.
Just for the record, A.J. Allmendinger (the driver who was kicked to the curb for Speed), currently has his No. 44 well inside the top-35 at 20th position.
Although Allmendinger was not scheduled to run the entire season, it may be difficult for team owner George Gillett to pull the car from the track when it’s running so well.
The boys take the week off before heading to two straight short-tracks (Bristol and Martinsville).
Let’s go short-track racing!