With the Sprint Cup season now history, it’s time to go back and take a look at some of the key moments of Red Bull's 2010 NASCAR campaign that you might have overlooked.
One thing is clear: A promising year for the Red Bull Toyotas didn’t go as planned after team leader Brian Vickers was forced out of the line-up due to a blood-clotting condition. That brought five replacement driversbehind the wheel of Vickers’ No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, while Scott Speed piloted the No. 82 for the entire season.
With Vickers’ loss serving as the overall downer for the season, here are a few of the more interesting moments in 2010 for the Red Bull squad.
The Red Bull team hired veteran road racer Boris Said to drive the No. 83 at the challenging Watkins Glen International circuit. Feeling he had a car that could win, Said planned to bide his time in the race and make a late charge to the front. That all changed on lap 65, when he ran Tony Stewart out of track in the first corner and the No. 14 driver retaliated by turning Said heading into the next bend. The No. 83 Red Bull slammed backwards into a barrier in Turn 2 and spun down the track, ending Said’s day. After he climbed from the car, Said offered this gem: “This Red Bull team is great. They gave me wings, but I didn't expect to be flying around in circles. I wanted to be flying around the winner's circle at the end of the race.”
Taking One for the Team Award
No. 83 rear tire changer Chuck Efaw was in the wrong place at the wrong time late in the season finale at Homestead-Miami and ended his year in the hospital. As Efaw ran to the left side of the No. 83 after fixing the right-hand rear tire, he lost a battle for space with Kevin Harvick’s No. 29, which clipped the crewman as it pulled out of the pitbox behind the Red Bull garage. Efaw was put on a stretcher and stayed overnight in the hospital with three avulsion fractures of his lumbar vertebrae. More common in children due to their growth plates, an avulsion fracture occurs when a tendon or ligament pulls off a piece of bone rather than failing itself. Eurrgh.
Most Welcome Foreigner
An outsider from a land of weirdly-named cars like ‘AMG’ and ‘A4’ with trick components such as carbon-fiber brakes and fuel injection, Mattias Ekström isn't exactly your typical good ol’ boy. But after working with the two-time DTM champion for one day of testing in the Sprint Cup car, it was more than clear that the Red Bull crew would have gone to hell and back for the likeable Swede. Okay, maybe Brad Keselowski wasn't terribly welcoming when he spun the No. 83 in Ekström's NASCAR debut in Sonoma, but he does that to anyone and everyone, so don’t go by that. When Ekström returned from German Touring Car duties to the Cup for his oval debut at Richmond in September, he had already earned a spot as one of the boys.
After a bit of a sluggish start to 2010, both Brian Vickers and Scott Speed were looking for a good break in the early-season Kobalt Tools 500 in Atlanta. They got it in the form of a late race pile-up that eliminated seven cars from the show on the first green-white-checkered finish attempt. Vickers stayed high while Speed ducked low and both got through the carnage unscathed. The result was the third-best combined finish in the team’s short history, with Vickers coming home seventh followed by Speed three spots behind in 10th.
Worst Performance by a Teammate in a Supporting Role
When Vickers was diagnosed with bloodclots in his leg and lungs, the team turned to Casey Mears to replace the No. 83 driver. A veteran of eight Sprint Cup seasons, the team hoped Mears would bring some stability to a difficult situation. That all went wrong in Michigan, where the team struggled to find any speed on the two-mile, D-shaped oval. The pair of Red Bull cars found themselves running together near the back of the pack. Mears got himself under Speed's car and clipped his left rear in Turn 2, sending the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota sideways. It was Mears' last appearance in the No. 83.
Biggest “Holy Shit!” Moment
After stepping away from the team to deal with his medical condition, Brian Vickers updated the media on his progress in late August at the Bristol Motor Speedway. In the press conference, Vickers dropped a huge bomb, telling the world that he had undergone open heart surgery to seal a hole doctors discovered during his treatment. The small hole was one he had from birth that never closed like it does with most people born with one. It was discovered when some clots migrated mysteriously to his left hand. He also had a second operation to have a tiny mesh tube called a stent inserted into the iliac vein in his leg to help alleviate the May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS) that caused the clotting problem. In Vickers, the MTS formed blood clots when his iliac artery put pressure on the corresponding vein in his left leg.
Too Much Information Award
This last gong definitely goes to Scott Speed, who sometimes uses his Twitter account to poll his followers on some extremely important issues. Then again, at other times, not so much. For example: on February 27 this year, Speed announced a shower survey on Twitter: “Ok to pee in the shower yea or nea? I say yea, [wife, pictured with Scott] @Amanda_Speed says yea...” Oh, and just to be clear on the subject matter, he later qualified his assertion so his followers knew he didn’t think it was okay in the motorhome shower. He was talking about a normal shower. And just in case you’re wondering, Speed also Tweeted the official results: “90% plus people pee in the shower ... I feel a lot better now!”