Red Bull team announces driver/crew chief lineup
No. 83 driver Brian Vickers will have a new crew chief for his third season with Red Bull Racing Team, as Ryan Pemberton leads Vickers’ charge to his first Red Bull victory and a spot in the 2009 Chase. Teammate Scott Speed will return for his rookie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. He’ll drive the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota under the watch of returning crew chief Jimmy Elledge.
“We’re entering our third Sprint Cup season with driver and crew chief pairings that have what it takes to consistently compete at a high level,” said Jay Frye, RBRT Vice President and General Manager. “Brian and Ryan are each at a point in their respective careers where they can bring home wins and make a run for the championship. Scott earned his Sprint Cup ride by exceeding our expectations in ARCA and trucks. He has a great asset in Jimmy, who has experience working with both rookies and open-wheel drivers.”
Pemberton, 39, inherits a No. 83 team that earned a pole, three top-five and six top-10 finishes before Vickers finished 19th in points. His most recent crew chief role was with the No. 44 Toyota, guiding driver David Reutimann to four top 10s in 2008.
A longtime crewman, Pemberton became a crew chief in 1995 in the Nationwide Series and took his first Sprint Cup job in 1997 at MB2 Motorsports. Since then, he has crew chiefed for the likes of Derrike Cope, Jerry Nadeau, Joe Nemechek, Mark Martin and Aric Almirola. His first victory as a crew chief came when Nemechek won the 2004 race at Kansas Speedway.
After ruffling fenders in ARCA and the Craftsman Truck Series, Speed graduates to a full-time Sprint Cup ride in 2009. He drove the No. 84 in four races and the No. 83 in one to close last season. Speed, switching to a silver No. 82, will contend for rookie of the year and start the season locked inside the top 35 in car owner points. He’s guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races, including the season-opening Daytona 500. He’ll also run a partial Nationwide Series schedule in the No. 99 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
After a two-year stint in the NASCAR garage, the No. 84 retires to the RBRT museum, also known as the race shop in Mooresville, N.C.