After just four races at the Sprint Cup level, Casey Mears is reportedly out as the interim driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota. Mears didn't exactly light up the track in his tenure, finishing no higher than 22nd.
A report Wednesday morning on "Sirius Speedway" indicated that Mears is now out. (Yahoo! Sports has reached out to Red Bull, but it hasn't yet commented. They're probably busy right about now.)
It's not particularly surprising news that Mears is out; he was already slated for the sidelines during this coming weekend's road-course run in favor of Mattias Ekstrom. But clearly, Red Bull isn't satisfied with just going around in circles, which is all that Mears had accomplished to this point. (To his credit, it's not easy jumping into a new team midseason, following in the footsteps of a Chase-level driver.)
So now the question becomes, who replaces Mears? Does Red Bull go with another established Cup veteran, or is an up-and-coming Nationwide driver the way to turn? Since this is, as far as anyone knows — and everyone hopes — a partial-season commitment at best, who would be willing to step in and take Brian Vickers' spot for one year?
It's exactly the kind of headache that Red Bull didn't want, and exactly the kind of bad publicity Casey Mears didn't need.
UPDATE: Reed Sorenson will be in the No. 83 beginning with the June 27 Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"Our unique situation has afforded us the opportunity to try some different things, and we're continuing to do that with Reed," Jay Frye, Red Bull's vice president and general manager, said in a statement. "We appreciate Casey's work and everything he's done the past five weeks."
Five years, Sorenson arrived on the scene as a 19-year-old with all the promise in the world, only that promise never materialized. In three seasons driving for Chip Ganassi, Sorenson collected just three top-5 finishes and 14 top 10s. When last we saw him in a full-time Cup ride in 2009, Sorenson was driving the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports, reportedly for no salary. After recording just one top 10, he was released at the end of the season.
Sorenson has competed in three Cup races this season for Braun Racing. His best finish is a 39th at Texas.
- Red Bull
- Casey Mears