83 Days until the Daytona 500

In Sprint Cup Series competition the #83 car has started 611 races and has 2 wins, 9 poles, 22 top 5s, 92 top 10s, and 158 DNFs

 

  • Brian Vickers has the most starts in the #83 car with 141 from 2007-2011. For the 2007 season, the newly founded Team Red bull hired 23 year old Vickers to be the lead driver for their race team, along with AJ Allmendinger in the #84 car. This season started out poorly when Vickers suffered a blown tire during his qualifying race for the Daytona 500; causing him to fail to qualify. The next week, the team regrouped, however, and scored a tenth-place finish in their first outing, the Auto Club 500 at California, which was coincidentally Toyota’s first top 10 in the Cup series. Two weeks later, Vickers led Toyota’s first lap in the Cup series at Atlanta.
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Brian Vickers, 2007

On May 27, 2007, Vickers gave Toyota its first top 5 ever in the Coca-Cola 600. Toyota brought a new engine to Charlotte, and Vickers showed its potential and surprised many by leading more than 70 laps of the race and having the dominant car. However, towards the end of the race, the power steering of the vehicle began to fail, and eventually ceased operation completely. The team’s luck continued to decline as Vickers soon blew a tire and slid into the turn four wall. Immediately as Vickers entered pit road, the caution flew for debris on the track; supposedly from his car. This was a saving grace, as it allowed the #83 car to stay on the lead lap; albeit off the pace and out of contention for the win. Richert managed to salvage the race through pit strategy; enabling Vickers to score a fifth-place finish.

2007 was a year of transition between the “current car” and the “Car of Tomorrow,” with the CoT being run in several races in preparation for the 2008 season. Team Red Bull chose to focus almost exclusively on developing the Car of Tomorrow, which hurt the current car performance of both drivers.  It was another problem in a long line for the entire Red Bull organization, as Vickers finished 38th in points and failed to qualify for 13 races while his teammate, A.J. Allmendinger, missed 19 races and finished 43rd. One of Vickers’ failures to make the race was due to a disqualification from the lineup of the 2007 Lenox Industrial Tools 301, after his car failed post-qualifying inspection 3 times.

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Vickers in the Car of Tomorrow, 2008

In 2008, Vickers, with new crew chief Kevin Hamlin, qualified for the 50th running of the Daytona 500 after racing himself in the field with an 11th-place finish in the Gatorade Duel. He went on to make the next 4 races with an average finish of 21st including a 9th-place finish at Atlanta.

Vickers’ pit crew won the 2008 Pit Crew Challenge during the All-Star weekend. Vickers went on the next weekend and led 61 laps in theCoca-Cola 600 before he lost his left rear wheel and crashed about halfway through the race

 

In 2009, Vickers and Red bull Racing had a breakout year after a controversial start. Vickers’ season began with controversy in the Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. got a run on the backstretch to the inside of Vickers, but Vickers blocked. Earnhardt, Jr. clipped the left rear fender; getting Vickers loose sending him into the field. Vickers said after the race that Earnhardt should have been black-flagged. Earnhardt later stated that he was unaware that Vickers was a lap down, and that both were fighting for the Lucky Dog position. Earnhardt later apologized.

 

 

The team earned 6 poles throughout the year, including the Carfax 400 at Michigan.  Vickers and his team would gamble by not pitting late in the race. Vickers stayed behind Jimmie Johnson for most of the final 40 laps, saving fuel. Johnson ran out of fuel with 3 laps to go and Vickers went on to win. Two days after the win, Vickers signed a multi-year contract extension with Red Bull.

 

After 11 races and 3 top 10s in the 2010 season, Vickers would be sidelined due to blood clots and health issues. Reed Sorenson (13 starts) replaced Vickers in most races, though Casey Mears (4 starts), Boris Said (1 start), and Mattias Ekstrom (2 starts) also made starts in the car. Kasey Kahne was signed to drive the #4 car for Red Bull in the 2011 season, and drove the last 5 races of the season in #83 in preparation.

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Brian Vickers, 2011

Vickers was clear to race in 2011. His season started out in the big one at Daytona, where he would finish 31st. A week later at Phoenix, he was involved in the big one again whenMatt Kenseth got into the back of him; triggering a 13 car pileup. Vickers was involved in two other notable run-ins with Kenseth in the fall races at Martinsville and Phoenix as well as run-ins with Tony Stewart at Sonoma, Marcos Ambrose at Richmond, and Jamie McMurray at Martinsville. He would finish the year 25th in points with seven top 10’s. After season’s end, Red Bull shut down its Cup Series team, leaving Vickers without a ride for 2012.

 

 

  • In 2012 the defunct Red Bull Racing became BK Racing and the 83 car continued to operate with Landon Cassill behind the wheel for 36 races. Cassill struggled, along with most of the BK Racing team. His best finish was 18th which he did 3 times. Cassill also had several on-track run ins with Danica Patrick during this time. After contract disputes and failure to receive his wages, Cassill left the team for the 2013 season.
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Cassill, 2012
  • For the 2013 season BK Racing moved David Reutimann into the #83 car. Reutimann qualified for all 36 races, but finished 36th in points- the lowest driver to run the full season. Reutimann and the team mutually parted ways after the season.
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Reutimann, 2013
  • Ryan Truex was signed to drive the #83 for the 2014 season, but after 23 races and several disputes with the team Truex was dismissed in favor of Travis Kvapil (2 starts) and JJ Yeley (9 starts).
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Ryan Truex, 2014

 

  • Johnny Sauter drove the #83 for BK Racing in the 2015 Daytona 500. It would ultimately be Sauter’s only start of the year in #83. Matt DiBenedetto began driving the #83 the following week at Atlanta. He failed to qualify for the first 2 races he attempted, but ran the following 33 races finishing 2nd in the Rookie of the Year challenge.
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DiBenedetto, 2015

In 2016, DiBenedetto would return to the #83 car for 30 starts. His most notable race came in the Spring race at Bristol where he placed 6th.  The respectable finish and emotional response quickly turned “DiBurritto” into a crowd favorite.

 

Though DiBenedetto started all 36 Sprint Cup event in 2016, he was bumped from his usual #83 car for 6 races in favor of guest drivers. When Matt was driving #93 or #49, his #83 BK Racing machine was piloted by Michael Waltrip for the Daytona 500, Dylan Lupton for 2 races, and Jefferey Earnhardt for 3 races.

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Michael Waltrip, 2016 Daytona 500
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Dylan Lupton, Martinsville, October 2016
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Jefferey Earnhardt, 2016

 

 

 

  • From 1987-1993 Lake Speed drove the #83 car in 92 races. With sponsorship from Wynn’s Car Care Products, Kmart and Delco Battery, Speed built an entirely new race team with himself as the owner and veteran crew chief Darrell Bryant helping him build the operation. The purple and white Oldsmobile donned the number 83, in honor of the year Lake became a born-again Christian. Speed was able to put up some impressive race runs in just thirteen starts. Speed finished ninth in the first Talladega race and backed that up with a third-place finish in the World 600. Speed’s other two top ten finishes were at the same tracks, seventh places at both Talladega and Charlotte.
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Lake Speed, 1987

The team’s strong 1987 performances proved to not be a fluke in 1988. With strong support from the Hoosier tire company, Speed ran strong in the Daytona 500 before dropping out due to an engine failure. The next race at Richmond, Speed ran up front leading sixty-seven laps but finishing sixth. The following race at Rockingham, Speed again showed power leading fifty-one laps finishing second to Neil Bonnett. Speed’s day in the sun would come March 27 at Darlington in the TranSouth 500. After starting the race eighth, Speed methodically moved his way to the front before eventually taking the lead and running away with the show. Leading 178 of the 367 laps, Speed beat Alan Kulwicki by half a straightaway to secure his first and only NASCAR Winston Cup win. One of the factors in Speed’s victory was that he was the only driver who tested the Hoosier tires at Darlington. Where most of his competitors thought that the Hoosiers would blister, Lake and his team knew that they would not. The win would be the only one of Speed’s career.

 

  • Worth McMillion started the #83 car in 49 of his 62 career races from 1962-1968.

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  • Other notable names in #83
    • Curtis Crider, 19 starts
    • Lennie Page, 16 starts
    • Red Byron, 3 starts
    • Joe Ruttman, 3 starts
    • Phil Parsons, 1 start
    • Tim Flock, 1 start
    • Bobby Isaac, 1 start
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