NOTEBOOK: The 'Red Bull lifestyle' days are over
Vickers struggles to come back
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Once Brian Vickers extolled “the Red Bull lifestyle,” even though it seemed at the time as if most had only the barest knowledge of what he was talking about.
Now, as Vickers prepares for his first Sprint Cup start of the year, he concedes that the aforementioned lifestyle might not have been beneficial to his career. Red Bull isn’t around anymore.
“Red Bull … they owned and sponsored the team, so it was a non-issue as long as they were happy,” he said. “I enjoyed that, but the Red Bull lifestyle is not one that is always appealing to other sponsors. It was enjoyable at times for me, but there was a lot of things, and the way they presented the drivers that was maybe less appealing to (other) corporate sponsors. Overcoming that a little bit -- and I had to start over again or reinvent myself from a sponsorship standpoint -- I've been working hard on that for the last three months. Really, that should have been my focus and we've come really close.”
Vickers, 28, is making the first of six scheduled starts in Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota that Mark Martin piloted in the first three races.
Quite a test track -- Bruton Smith wants to build a copy of Germany’s Nurburgring in the desert near Las Vegas.
Smith doesn’t want to own such a facility. He envisions no races on it. The Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO said he wants to build the track and turn it over to the state of Nevada. The famed German circuit is widely used for testing of production automobiles, and Smith said he wants to make Nevada a mecca of automobile testing.
Smith’s planned track would be more than 13 miles long and would require 8,000 acres of land. It would give Nevada a niche in the automotive world similar, if not the same, to that of Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats.
Hey, it’s for drivers – Before the Kobalt Tools 400 in Las Vegas, bleachers were moved into place to facilitate fans getting to attend the drivers’ meeting. The move got rave reviews, but it turns out that not all drivers were happy about it.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., for instance.
“I don’t like it,” he said Friday. “I like the drivers’ meeting to be with the drivers and the crew chiefs, and about the race. It has become less and less about that.
“It has to be cool for a fan to be able to have that kind of access. I think there is probably a way to give them that kind of access without going to the lengths that they went to at Vegas. I couldn’t see those video screens. I really couldn’t pay attention to what was going on. So, the meeting to me didn’t serve its purpose.”
A bit wistful – Carl Edwards isn’t racing in the Nationwide Series anymore. In fact, he’s waving the green flag in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300, which he said makes him feel a bit old.
What’s he missing?
“Every track is different,” Edwards said. “I’m taking notes each week. Daytona, I think, it was OK to miss that one. I don’t think I lost anything there. In hindsight, I would’ve liked to run Vegas.
“Overall, it’s good. As the season goes on, I will get a feel for which tracks I would like to run Nationwide again and which I’m glad not to. I don’t have a good enough sense yet.”
In short, at some point, he will be back.
Monte Dutton; 704-869-1841; twitter.com/montedutton