Red Bull still unsure of NASCAR plans for 2011

Brian Vickers insists, “I will be back next
season.”

The driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota has been
sidelined since May with May-Thurner Syndrome which increases the
risk for deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in a deep
vein.

During a press conference at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday,
Vickers, 26, explained he had surgery on July 12 to repair a hole
in his heart and a stint placed in his left leg to keep his vein
open and assist with the blood flow.

Vickers says both procedures “went very well” and
his doctors have given him “full clearance” to start
testing in January.

“I’m really excited about that,” Vickers
said.

Vickers says once he’s off the prescribed Coumadin, a
blood thinner, his chances of forming another blood clot are equal
to anyone else in the garage. Vickers fully expects to return to
the No. 83 Toyota next season.

And while Red Bull is holding the seat open for Vickers, the
company simply can’t afford to endure another disruptive
season in 2011 as was the case this year. The No. 83 Toyota, which
qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup last season with
Vickers, is currently 27th in the owners standings after hosting
five racers.

The No. 82 Red Bull Toyota, driven solely by Scott Speed this
season, is 28th in points. Speed has scored just two top-10
finishes and led 21 laps through 24 races. Although Speed signed a
contract extension in May, it’s becoming increasingly clear
that he won’t match his performance clause — a
16th-place finish in the standings.

“Like we said earlier, we’re monitoring
Brian’s situation with his health,” said Red Bull GM
Jay Frye. “We’re monitoring Scott’s performance
situation. We have room to do different things. Depending on part
of what happens with Brian, we’ll react at that point.

“Next year we know what the situation is with Kasey.
Again, with Brian, we’re very hopeful and Scott needs to pick
up his performance. And he can. With Scott, we’re coming to
the third and fourth race in his career at different racetracks. We
need to see some sort of improvement. We need to see where the
curve is moving forward in the next few months.

Currently, Kahne is the only known piece to the 2011 Red Bull
puzzle. In securing Kahne, Frye finally has a driver with multiple
wins and Chase appearances under his belt. Although Kahne’s
enlistment is for just one year, he can provide a barometer as to
how the organization has progressed during its four seasons in the
Sprint Cup Series.

“We have great expectations for Kasey,” Frye said.
“In our minds, there’s no reason why we can’t win
races, get in the Chase and compete for championship with him next
year. That’s feasible and a very realistic goal. We’re
going to do everything we can to allow him to compete at the
highest level he’s ever competed at.”

“Brian’s very optimistic about his recovery and so
are we. But we have to continue to monitor the situation.
We’re about at the half-way point of his recovery process. So
far, so good. We’re remaining hopefully optimistic. When we
know exactly what’s going on with him and what we’re
doing going forward with the rest of the company.”

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