Brian Vickers at Watkins Glen 2009 Getty Images

Maintain was the mission at Watkins Glen International, and Red Bull Racing Team accomplished that and a little bit more.

No. 83 driver Brian Vickers moved eight points closer to the Chase with his 11th-place finish in Monday’s rain-delayed Heluva Good! at the Glen. Teammate and No. 82 driver Scott Speed finished 22nd in his Sprint Cup debut at the 11-turn, 2.45-mile road course.

Vickers, coming off four consecutive top 10s, kept his 14th-place position in the standings. He’s 96 points out of the top 12 with four races remaining before the Chase begins Sept. 20 at New Hampshire.

“We made the most of the day,” Vickers said, “finishing 11th and gaining a few points toward the Chase. We are all looking forward to the race in Michigan next weekend.”

Indeed, Michigan International Speedway is a track designated for gain. Vickers has won consecutive poles there, as well as finishing in the top 10 four races in a row.

But back to the season’s second and final road-course race, which because of rain became the third Monday matinee of 2009. Vickers ran as high as sixth before halfway, and under a lengthy red flag crew chief Ryan Pemberton decided to bring in the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota on lap 63. Vickers gave up the 15th position, but, as Pemberton noted, “You’re good to go on fuel, tires … everything. Eat ’em up.”

He did just that. Vickers restarted 22nd and charged to 11th over the final 24 laps.

“The brake problems we had Friday in practice hurt us because we weren’t able to get the laps in and make the adjustments we needed to be prepared for today,” Vickers said. “We were behind in track position because of it and fought a tight condition all day, especially in turn five.”

Watkins Glen was the last of the Sprint Cup tracks Speed had yet to experience. He turned his first lap there in Friday’s opening practice session, qualified 26th and finished 10th in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race.

On Monday, Speed cycled his way into the lead 30 laps from the finish during a series of green-flag pit stops. Then, the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota was on point as the field sat lifeless for a stoppage of nearly 20 minutes.

Speed led four laps as the only driver not to pit before a nasty six-car wreck forced the red flag. But the inevitable happened — a regularly scheduled pit stop on lap 63 that put Speed back in 23rd. He ended up 22nd in only the third road race of his stock car career.

“This was my first time to Watkins Glen, so we had hoped to have a decent finish,” Speed said. “We didn’t have the day we were looking for. We really struggled with getting the right setup on our car. Pit strategy allowed us to lead a few laps, which helped us gain a few extra points. It’s a shame we only have two road-course races on the schedule — I would have loved another shot at it.”

The No. 82 ranks 36th in the car owner standings — 142 points from the top 35.


    Add a comment

    * All fields required
    Only 2000 Characters are allowed to enter :
    Type the word at the left, then click "Post Comment":

    Article Details