By admin | March 18, 2009
By Richard Allen
Last year the leaders of Team Red Bull Racing decided to replace driver A.J. Allmendinger with Scott Speed. So far in 2009 that trade has not worked out in the best interest of Team Red Bull.
Speed had excellent credentials. He had wins in the ARCA Series and as well as in in NASCAR’s truck series. Also, and probably most importantly to the Red Bull bosses in Europe, he had Formula 1 experience.
At one time rumor had it the organization would attempt to find additional funding and field three teams in 2009. When that scenario did not come to fruition the move was made. Speed was put in the Sprint Cup car #84 and Allmendinger was let go.
Speed took over the Red Bull Toyota from Allmendinger near the end of 2008. His first race in the car was at Martinsville. In five races his best finish was only a 16th in Homestead, where he started the race on the outside of the front row.
Driving what is now car #82, Speed has struggled in 2009. His highest finish of the season has only been a 21st in Las Vegas. Most importantly, the #82 sits in the 37th spot in owner points. If Speed is unable to move into the Top 35 after this weekend in Bristol he will have to go to Martinsville without the assurance of being locked into the field.
In the meantime, Allmendinger has landed on his feet, for the time being, with Richard Petty Motorsports in car #44. A strong Top 5 run in the prestigious Daytona 500 has been the highlight of his season thus far.
Unlike Speed, Allmendinger is safely inside the Top 35 of owner’s points by ranking 20th.
Unfortunately, adequate funding for a full season has not been found. The team is only set to compete in eight races. Unless more money is provided by sponsors, the RPM team will scale back to a three car operation for drivers, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson.
So far, the trade of A.J. Allmendinger for Scott Speed has not worked to plan for Team Red Bull, which could result in their car missing races if things do not improve quickly.
However, Allmendinger may miss races as well, but for an entirely different reason.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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