In an unfortunate turn of events, the Red Bull Toyotas got together during Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan. Red Bull Racing Team's drivers are always instructed to race each other clean and to practice give-and-take on the track, but it was an imperfect storm that led to Casey Mears' No. 83 tagging Scott Speed's No. 82 in turn one.
Just prior to the incident on lap 98, Mears had mentioned that his car had "zero side bite." Speed, too, had his hands full, saying that his was loose on entry into the corner. Mears, running in the middle groove underneath his teammate, had little air to lean on and drifted up just enough for his right front to connect with Speed's left rear.
The result? Speed went spinning. He kept it off the wall, though, and both cars continued under caution.
Simply put, one car clipped another at the wrong time on the wrong part of the race track. This time, it just happened to be teammates. End of story.
Mears' day essentially ended two laps later. As he approached his pit box, David Ragan prematurely vacated his and drilled the left-front corner of Mears' car. The contact proved to be worse than it appeared, as Mears retreated to the garage one lap later with a broken spindle - a key component that ties together steering and suspension.
Mears returned to the track 38 laps later in the 36th position. Ten laps from the finish, the No. 83 blew a left-front tire and hit the wall. The day was officially done, and Mears finished 36th. The No. 83 slipped to 25th in the car owner standings.
After Speed's spin, the 2-hour, 35-minute and 32-second race wore on with long green-flag runs. The No. 82 team threw everything including the kitchen sink at the car to improve the handling. On the second-to-last stop, they hit on something and Speed soon radioed that it was a "totally different car in the first part of the corner." He began logging his fastest laps of the race.
The fourth and final caution waved for debris, and Speed took fuel and restarted 30th with 14 laps to go. He picked up two positions to finish 28th. Speed now ranks 26th in the driver standings, and the No. 82 is 27th in owner points.
Up next is the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday, June 20, at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Look for Matthias Ekström behind the wheel of the No. 83.