Thursday, November 03, 2011

Red Bull Racing Team Martinsville II race report

And the hits just kept on coming. And coming. And coming. By the time Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 was complete, 18 caution flags had waved that consumed more than a fifth of the 500 laps at Martinsville Speedway, putting the pace car third on the laps led list with 108. Brian Vickers, according to NASCAR’s cumulative report, was involved in five of them — three before lap 100.

Vickers drove into the top 10 courtesy of longer runs in the race’s middle stages and was running ninth with 50 laps to go. But the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, already beaten and battered, took its worst shot when Matt Kenseth punted Vickers’ car into the turn-three wall with 42 laps to go. That irked an already frustrated driver, and Vickers, who had gone from a possible top 10 to multiple laps down, countered on Kenseth not long after in the same spot.

The end result? A 30th-place finish and a scrap heap of a race car that didn’t see the checkered flag for only the second time this season.

“These are the races where we all get to capitalize on it and do all the other things right, keep working hard and get yourself back in the game,” said Ryan Pemberton, Vickers’ crew chief. “Right there at the end, we just took ourselves out of it. We were in the game and now we’re out of the game — after all that. Four or five hours into the race and we finally get into good position, like, ‘OK, here’s the chance to capitalize on something.’ And we didn’t even have the chance to swing the bat.”

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