SEPTEMBER 28, 2002
Red Bull Driver Search - the whittling begins
Bobby East, a USAC Midget driver, decided that he was not really keen on the whole idea of road racing and told Danny Sullivan that he did not want to be considered as a candidate. Soon afterwards the highly-rated AJ Allmendinger was forced into a situation in which he had to decide whether to go for a fully-paid drive in 2003 in Formula Atlantic or risk not winning the Red Bull prize and ending up with no drive. Allmendinger, who was one of the favourites to win one of the Red Bull deals, decided that he had to go with the Atlantic chance.
A third driver, Joey Hand, has also recently signed a deal to race in Atlantic next year and so is thought unlikely to stick with the scheme.
"The important thing," said Danny Sullivan, "is that the guys want to do it. They have to want to go to Europe and be hungry enough to take risks. If they have another deal and that's what they think they should do then I'll say: 'OK, good luck. He is not the guy we are looking for.'
The battle for the four Red Bull sponsorships in Europe is now down to 13 or 14 drivers: Michael Abbate, Paul Edwards, Phil Giebler, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Patrick Long, Grant Maiman, Rocky Moran Jr, Joel Nelson, Scott Poirier, Boston Reid, Bryan Sellers, Scott Speed, Bobby Wilson and (perhaps) Hand.