2006 Team Performance
This team didn't exist in '06, though its planning has been underway for more than two years. Toyota's much-ballyhooed entry into Nextel Cup racing has ramped up from Craftsman Trucks and Grand-Am Cup Sports Touring since 2004, and in '06, Toyota won the manufacturer's championship in the trucks series, capturing 12 of 25 events, and was the make of choice for '06 champ Todd Bodine. The main question throughout '06 was: which drivers would Toyota lure to its new teams?
2007 Team Outlook
Michael Waltrip's new Toyota venture went the geezer route, signing himself, Dale Jarrett and 36-year-old rookie David Reutimann. Team Red Bull, on the other hand, chose a more developmental path, focusing on a 23-year-old (Brian Vickers) and a 25-year-old (A.J. Allmendinger). Vickers saw the writing on the wall at Hendrick Motorsports last year, and signed his deal with TRB in late June; Allmendinger parlayed a tumultuous but ultimately successful '06 on the open-wheel Champ Car World Series into a late-season Craftsman Truck ride with Bill Davis Racing, and then an October contract with the boys from Red Bull. There's no question this is one of the best-financed new teams ever to hit Nextel Cup racing, and a lot is expected of this duo right away. Vickers, in particular, has three full years of big-league stock car experience, and won his first race at Talladega last fall. Allmendinger will surely have a tougher row to hoe, considering he's never experienced a Nextel Cup race behind the wheel. He's a really good road-course guy, though, so that'll be something to watch. Of 2007's new teams (and there are at least six), Team Red Bull smells most like a competitive group right out of the gate.
83 - Brian Vickers
Best Finish: 1st
Poles, Top-fives, top-10s, DNFs: 1, 5, 9, 2