Monday, June 20, 2011

Red Bull reportedly out of NASCAR after 2011 season

Brian Vickers has been with Red Bull Racing since it debuted in
NASCAR in 2007. Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR
Energy drink maker Red Bull plans to exit NASCAR at the end of this season, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Red Bull, which is based in Austria, owns and sponsors its two-car Sprint Cup team in Mooresville, N.C.

According to the report, a team official informed industry leaders of the company's plans Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. An official announcement has not been made to team employees.

Red Bull made its NASCAR debut in 2007. It was one of the first teams to run Toyotas in the Sprint Cup Series, but has struggled to make its mark.

In 2009 Brian Vickers, who has been with the team since its entry into NASCAR, scored the team's only Sprint Cup win and its sole showing in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Vickers returned to the team this year after missing most of last season due to blood clots. In addition to Vickers, the team's current lineup includes Kasey Kahne, who signed a one-year deal to drive for Red Bull before joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. Vickers, in the last year of his contract, has said he was entertaining other offers for next year.

The team has been criticized for rushing its drivers, including A.J. Allmendinger and Scott Speed, into Sprint Cup without adequate time to develop. Speed is suing Red Bull for breach of contract after he was let go at the end of last year. 

According to the Associated Press report, it's unclear what will happen to development driver Cole Whitt or Red Bull Racing's employees.

After the Associated Press reported the news, Kasey Kahne tweeted from his official Twitter account:
 
"Heard the news about REDBULL today. All I can say is the 4 REDBULL team is still going to do all we can to win this year. We know we can!!"

Later Monday afternoon, Red Bull released this official statement:

"Red Bull Racing Team is currently seeking outside investors as we evaluate next steps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. We are not at liberty to comment on details while negotiations are under way. Red Bull fully supports NASCAR and will continue its investment in America’s premier form of motorsports for the remainder of the 2011 season. The team’s focus will not waiver as we fight for victories and a position in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup."

Red Bull operates a successful two-car Formula 1 team with defending champion Sebastian Vettel, who has won five out of seven races this season, and Mark Webber.

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