June 20, 2011
Red Bull has had enough
By DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Red Bull is set to disband its two NASCAR Sprint Cup teams at he end of the 2011 season multiple sources were reporting on Monday.
It is well known that the energy drink maker’s founder and uber boss Dietrich Mateschitz had been unhappy about the two-car effort under the leadership of respected NASCAR veteran Jay Frye.
Late Monday Red Bull issued a terse three sentence release: “Red Bull Racing Team is currently seeking outside investors as we evaluate next steps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. We are not at liberty to comment on details while negotiations are under way. Red Bull fully supports NASCAR for the remainder of the 2011 season as we fight for victories and a position in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup.”
Since the team’s NASCAR debut in 2007 success has been sporadic at best, with only one win in four plus seasons.
This is balanced against Red Bull’s Formula One squad that has produced one world championship with Sebastian Vettel last season and is a runaway leader again this season.
Noticeable by its absence at NASCAR tracks this season, as well, has been Red Bull’s normally aggressive marketing apparatus.
Vickers gets jobbed
Speaking of the Red Bull team there were more than a few unhappy campers among those NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers who did not win the Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday and chief among them was Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, who had been racing with the leaders until an ill-fated caution came out on Lap 157.
The Red Bull crew had called Vickers in for a green flag pit stop at the start of that lap and while the No. 83 Toyota was getting fuel and tires a caution came out.
Vickers was running fourth at the time.
NASCAR scored Vickers one lap down to the leaders, forcing him to take a wave around and restart the race at the end of the longest line — which moved him from fourth to 20th.
Vickers’ response: “We just got screwed.”
But he did manage to climb back to 10th in the final 43 laps, so all was not completely lost.
No love lost
Reigning IZOD IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti doesn’t think much of the driving style of three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.
Even in toasting his own victory Sunday in the Milwaukee 225 Franchitti managed to cast Castroneves as the villain of the piece, while praising another Brazilian, Tony Kanaan.
Just listen in to his post-race remarks on his fight with both drivers on the final laps at the Milwaukee Mile.
“Kanaan came marching along and he looked really, really strong, and he gave me a hard time as usual,” Franchitti said. “Racing with Tony is a pleasure. An absolute pleasure. Just inches apart, giving each other room and respect, and then Helio joins the party and does his usual blocking crap.”
It would be hard to find two more mild-mannered drivers in all of NASCAR than Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin.
That they are already teammates at Hendrick Motorsports makes the match even more of a mutual admiration society.
Until Sunday, that is, at Michigan.
Earnhardt, who was looking to end his 107-race losing streak, was on his way back from earlier pit-road problems to at least a top-10 finish with nine laps to go when Martin moved up on him between Turns 1 and 2, sending the No. 88 Chevrolet into the wall and an eventual a 21st-place finish.
Earnhardt was livid.
“The defining moment probably was getting run into the wall by Mark,” Earnhardt said. “He comes up there, he knew I was up there, but he was just running hard. If the tables were turned, I would have been smarter and give him plenty of room, (more) than he did me.
“He is older than me (52 to Earnhardt’s 36), been racing forever ... still I take better care of people than that. I try really hard to take care of people — try not to be careless — and I don’t like putting up with carelessness. That really pissed me off, what happened right there.”
After the race the pair met in Earnhardt’s hauler and made up, sort of.
“I made a mistake,” he said.
And Earnhardt forgave him, reluctantly.
“Mark came and gave me a good explanation and I believe it and it’s the end of it.”
For his first time in an IZOD IndyCar at the Milwaukee Mile Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe did himself really proud on Sunday.
His six-place finish was the second best of his rookie season with the Newman Haas Racing squad.
“The race was a lot of fun,” he said in a team release. “The Sprott car was so good and the team did such a good job in the pits.”
Hinchcliffe gave credit for his good showing to teammate Oriol Servia who has hundreds of laps at the Milwaukee short track under his IndyCar belt.
“I didn’t test (at Milwaukee) and in practice I was getting us going in the wrong direction so we really leaned on Oriol in qualifying and for the race setup and the car was great,” he said. “We were able to drive around some people, had some great, great pit stops; the crew was unbelievable. To get a top-six at a track like this on your first crack at it is something we can be pretty happy with.”