RICHMOND, VA - APRIL 30: Kasey Kahne, driver of the #4 Red Bull Toyota, races teammate Brian Vickers, driver of the #83 Red Bull Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 30, 2011 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Red Bull Pulling Support From NASCAR At End Of 2011

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Kasey Kahne 'A Little Worried' About Red Bull Racing Team's Performance During Remainder Of 2011 NASCAR Season

Kasey Kahne acknowledged Thursday afternoon he's concerned the remainder of his time at Red Bull Racing Team may be troublesome given the organization's uncertain future.

"If everybody is unsure about what they have, I don't think they're going to perform like if they knew where they were going to be next year and knew that they were stable," he said after an Infineon Raceway-sponsored lunch in San Francisco. "So as of right now, I'm a bit worried, yeah. I don't see how you can't be."

Kahne, who went through a similar situation last year with Richard Petty Motorsports, said that in his experience with teams struggling to find financial support, "It slowly falls apart."

"It's kind of discouraging to be part of it, but at the same time, it's not even about myself," he said. "It's about those people and those families. And that's why (the performance) gets screwed up, because it's them that's getting hurt by this whole deal."

Kahne, who was already signed to leave Red Bull for Hendrick Motorsports next season, said he heard rumblings about his current team's troubles at Michigan. Those rumors, which became a reality on Monday, quickly spread to the team members.

"A lot of pit crew guys, a lot of guys working on the cars, are like, ‘Man, what am I going to do? I have a family,'" he said. "And as soon as that gets started, that doesn't make a team any better. That's just the way it is."

Though Kahne said he's been told Red Bull very much wants the teams to continue under different ownership, the future is still uncertain. And that means the performance of the team is, too.

"As far as Red Bull putting everything they have into the car and the program the rest of the season, they're going to do that," he said. "They've said that. But it's the people. And if the people feel like they're in a stable place, they're going to do a better job – they're going to perform better."

Kahne said he'd like to test the No. 5 car for Hendrick before the season is over in order to get a feel for the engines and handling of the cars, but said he prefers to remain with Red Bull's No. 4 for the races.

The driver said he felt helpless about the situation. Aside from perhaps winning a couple races earlier this season – he speculated that could have changed the outcome of Red Bull's decision – Kahne said there was nothing he could do.

At this point, he said, he'll "just kind of hope for the best."

"By saying that, I'm hoping they somehow figure out a way to keep those teams going," he said, "and everybody will start feeling comfortable again."


Red Bull Racing Exec Optimistic About Finding Investor To Save NASCAR Team

Red Bull Racing Team general manager Jay Frye struck a hopeful and optimistic tone Tuesday during his first public comments about sponsor/team owner Red Bull pulling out of NASCAR.

Frye used words like "enthusiastic," "excited" and "confident" when discussing the possibility that the team could attract an investor or partner to help keep it alive once Red Bull's millions of dollars in support is gone after this season.

The GM even said he was hopeful a serious investor would emerge in the next 30-45 days.

"Red Bull's No. 1 goal in this whole situation is that the team continues on the path it's currently on," Frye told reporters via conference call. "We're very encouraged by what's going on."

Whether Frye is just putting on a positive face for the sake of gaining an investor is up for debate, but he also delivered a message to Red Bull's 150-plus team employees that their success and hard work for the remainder of the season would help the situation "take care of itself."

"People want to be associated with winners," he said. "We think we're winners, and this is a great opportunity for a partner to come in."

Frye said he's already received interest from several prospects since Monday's announcement – all of them outside the sport. He added Red Bull could remain with the team in some capacity, though offered few details.

"We have every expectation to be a two-car team as we are now, going into next year," he said.

A longtime friend of Mark Martin, Frye said the veteran driver is not currently involved in any discussions about investing or owning part of the team. Frye also called it "doubtful" Martin would give up his seat in the No. 5 car early to allow current Red Bull driver Kasey Kahne to get a head start with Hendrick Motorsports.

Frye said Red Bull officials had made him aware several weeks ago of the potential for the sponsor to pull its support from NASCAR. He hoped the situation would change, he said, "but it didn't."

"Part of what's going on is also sad," he acknowledged. "... We're part of Red Bull and part of the Red Bull company. Having said that, that's also really good because their No. 1 goal is to see this thing through and continue what they started."


Red Bull Issues Statement About Leaving NASCAR

News continues to trickle in about the pending departure of Red Bull from NASCAR at the end of the 2011 season. Following the breaking news story posted this morning by The Associated Press, the team has released the following 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.

The statement does little to answer many of the questions that linger about Monday’s breaking news, while raising a host of other questions.

There is sure to be many more developments to this developing story over the next days and weeks, so check back as we keep you abreast on all that is going on with the departure of Red Bull from NASCAR.


Departure Of Red Bull Bad News For NASCAR

The news of Red Bull's pending departure from NASCAR at the end of the 2011 season sent shockwaves through the NASCAR community Monday afternoon. Those shockwaves will continue to be felt throughout the sport for many months, as the organization attempts to figure out where to go next.

At the moment, Red Bull fields cars for Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne, as well as Truck Series rookie sensation Cole Whitt. Plans were already in place for Kahne to move to Hendrick Motorsports for 2012 and Vickers is currently in his final contract year with the organization.

By leaving the sport at the end of the season, Red Bull will leave two vacancies at the sport's biggest level, taking with it their sponsorship money and appeal to the 18-36 male demographic.

With NASCAR constantly looking to draw the interest of the younger demographic, the loss of a well-recognizable energy drink brand the caliber of Red Bull is a setback in that pursuit. Yet, the fault lay not with NASCAR.

The company runs all of its operations out of their main headquarters in Austria, not ideal for a sport that is dependent on personal business relationships at the shop and within the garage.

The best teams in the sport – Hendrick, Gibbs, Childress, etc. – are operated by owners that are fully involved on a day-to-day basis. For these owners, the team is not simply another business venture or a new way to expand their brand awareness; it is about racing and winning.

Owners and organizations that come into NASCAR expecting to make a big splash right away usually fall to the wayside – just look at the stellar ownership history of Bobby Ginn and George Gillett, for example. When Red Bull made the jump to NASCAR, they expected just that. Instead, they were faced with the harsh reality of the sport and have never fully recovered.

Vickers and AJ Allmendinger struggled to make races their first season in 2007. Then, as it appeared Allmendinger was making progress, he was let go in favor of former Red Bull Formula One driver Scott Speed. Again expecting big things out of their in-house driver, Speed fell flat on his face, struggling mightily for the two seasons he was in the Sprint Cup Series before being let go by the team via fax in November. In addition, Vickers, the team’s star driver, was forced to sit out the majority of last year with blood clot issues.

Despite his best efforts, team general manager Jay Frye often worked with one hand tied behind his back as the major decisions were ultimately made half a world away, with little knowledge of how the sport works.

The loss of Red Bull’s brand identity, their attraction to the young male demographic and their sponsorship dollars will be missed in NASCAR, but their ownership style will not. Too often people come into the sport expecting to make money quickly by finding instant success. When they fail to find that success, they often quickly cut their losses and hightail it back to wherever they came from.

Yet the ones who often suffer are the employees that are left to fend for themselves. Rumors are swirling there are already people working to find investors to salvage the program without the help of Red Bull moving forward, yet there still remains a cloud of uncertainty that will linger around this organization for the remainder of the season and time to come.


AP Report: Red Bull Leaving NASCAR At End Of 2011

The Associated Press' Jenna Fryer has reported Red Bull is planning to leave NASCAR at the end of the 2011 season. The AP report explained a team official traveled to Michigan International Speedway this weekend to "inform industry leaders" of their decision.

Since joining NASCAR in 2007, the two-car Red Bull organization has struggled to produce the results expected. In their inaugural season, both Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger struggled to simply qualify for races. Since then, the team has one victory with Vickers, but has continued to struggle.

The team currently fields cars for Vickers, who is in the final year of his contract, as well as Kasey Kahne, who will move on to Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the season.

Red Bull also funds two Formula One teams, including current series leader Sebastian Vettle, as well as a host of other action sports.

No reason was given for their departure, nor was it clear what would happen to the team's current employees.

Be sure to check back as this story is sure to develop further.

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