Brian Vickers says he isn’t feeling pressure to prove himself on the track, but that doesn’t mean his future is secure or he knows where he’ll be racing in 2012.
Vickers spent three years at Hendrick Motorsports before moving to Red Bull Racing in 2007, where he has spent the last five years.
But Red Bull wants to sell the team, and Vickers is unsure what will happen. Red Bull announced in late June that it was selling the team and it’s been nearly three months with no announcement of a buyer.
Vickers has even worked to line up potential buyers but nothing has materialized.
“I’m keeping all my options open,” Vickers said this past weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. “I haven’t heard anything out of Red Bull lately as to what their plans are.
“Nothing has really changed there. To my knowledge, they’re still looking to sell the team. I’ve put them in touch with some great buyers, and they haven’t done anything with it so I’m not sure what they’re up to.”
There could be some rides available with other teams, depending on sponsorship. Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing currently have a team that is not sponsored for next year, and RCR expects to have a driver opening when Clint Bowyer announces he is leaving, most likely to join Michael Waltrip Racing.
One thing that won’t happen, Vickers said, is that his father would buy the Red Bull team. When Vickers got his start in the Nationwide Series, it was with the family-owned team.
“My dad has no interest in owning a Cup team,” Vickers said. “I can put that [rumor] to a stop right now.”
Vickers says he has put pressure on himself from the time he raced go-karts and his job is to win races, which hasn’t changed since the start of the year.
The 27-year-old driver has two career Cup wins and made the Chase in 2009 but has struggled this year, sitting 27th in the standings in his first season since missing most of 2010 because of blood clots.
“Every day I show up to the race track, my job is to go win,” Vickers said. “I don’t believe those [looking-for-a-ride] situations change anything. If Red Bull was staying three more years and I was planning on being in the car, I’d still want to come here and win the race.
“That would still be my job whether they’re staying or not. At this level of the sport, there’s always pressure to perform. … My job and the job of this team is to go out and win the race. If we do that, that’s the best thing we can do for all of our situations.”
Jacques Villeneuve Interested In Red Bull Team
Among those who have inquired about purchasing the Red Bull assets is former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve. His business manager confirmed that Villeneuve has inquired about buying the team, but gave no indication of whether talks have been productive.
Villeneuve has never hidden his interest in Cup racing and if the Canadian driver can find investors to put him in a seat, he likely would do it.
He also could have investors purchase the team with the idea of him running a partial Cup schedule along with another driver.
Big Changes For JTG Daugherty?
JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said at Chicagoland Speedway that the team is still deciding whether it will remain a Michael Waltrip Racing affiliate in 2012.
Geschickter could keep his Cup operation at MWR or could move it back to his own shop and have a more traditional affiliate program. Or he could change car manufacturers, switching from Toyota.
The team expects to have Bobby Labonte back as its driver next year.
“We’d still like to have an association with JTG Daugherty if it’s a relationship that Tad can still do, dependent obviously largely on the manufacturer,” MWR general manager Ty Norris said.
“Tad has been a great partner of ours since 2008 and we were really good for each other, so he has decisions to make on what he’s going to do with his program.”