BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Starting Position: 3rd How was your qualifying run and how important is qualifying? "It was good. I'm really happy with it, especially based on how we've been qualifying....
How was your qualifying run and how important is qualifying?
"It was good. I'm really happy with it, especially based on how we've been qualifying. We've been struggling at that a little bit this year. Especially since we got in the top-35 we haven't focused on it. We got in the top-35 and all we focus on is race trim. A lot of weekends we didn't even make a practice qualifying run before qualifying. It was a total shot in the dark. When we did make a run we only got one and it was a halfway effort. This week, we decided we're going to come here -- we tested and we're real confident in our race package -- and qualify and practice in qualifying trim and we did that today. I think it proved that this team can qualify if we work at it and focus on it. Now, that we've proven that to ourselves as a group, we have decide going forward how much time do we spend on race trim and qualifying trim. A lot of that is going to be week-to-week depending on we feel about our race package versus qualifying package. In these cars, qualifying is so important."
How valuable was the test here at Lowe's Motor Speedway?
"It gave us the confidence in our race package so we could concentrate on our qualifying package. The race last week gave us the confidence in our race package that we can focus on our qualifying package. No doubt the testing and the race last week contributed to our being able to qualify like this. What we have to do now is figure out how to accomplish both -- a good race package and a good qualifying package -- without testing. It's a very tough balance."
What does it mean to start third here on Sunday?
"Going through last year was such a struggle with not always qualifying then didn't race as good as we wanted to always. We got in the top-35 and took full advantage of it, we spent the first practice in race trim and that has really hurt us in qualifying. Some weekends our first qualifying lap was qualifying. This week we had confidence in our race package and spent the whole first practice in qualifying trim and it paid off for us. I think where we've been qualifying this year, we walk away saying we would be pretty happy with a third place start. Anytime it comes down to hundredths or thousandths of a second -- you always ask yourself as a driver what else you could have done. Whether you could have pushed it just a little harder to get that extra thousandth of a second. When you get smoked by a tenth or two then you know that there's not much you could have done. It's bittersweet, we're pretty happy with it and hopefully we can be there at the end of the 600 miles."
Can you talk about having success at Lowe's Motor Speedway and why you are so good here?
"If I knew that then I would do that everywhere. There's always tracks that drivers seem to perform at better than others. I think every driver has a unique driving style, some are more similar than others. Every track I think accepts a certain driving style and the way you role out of the gas and use the brake and the way you role into the gas or you stab at it or however you drive it. This is one of the places that has always been good for me and I've run well. You know what you want here and your driving style fits it and I wish I knew how to do that at every race track, but I guess this comes with time."
Could it be mental to adjust to each track?
"I guess so, but not really. I feel like it could, who know, maybe subconsciously. I feel like I go into every weekend wanting to be my best and wanting to go there and win the race and put the same effort into Martinsville that I do into Charlotte. You never know, if I knew what it was then I would do it everywhere."
Do you expect to run well based on how you did here last October?
"Last year was a really good run for us here and it was our breakout race for Team Red Bull -- we led the most laps and then we had a mechanical failure that took us out of contention for the win, but we still finished fifth. It definitely makes me feel good going into it, but at the same time these cars are so different and they accept a completely different set up. If anything, the performance of how we ran here last year in the Cup race really applies more to how I feel about my Nationwide car because it's set-up very similar to how we were in the Cup race and I feel really good about that for race trim. As far as the Cup car, I feel good about it for two reasons. One, because we had a really good car last week in race trim although it didn't work out for us to get into the All-Star. Pit strategy didn't play out in our hands and the other reason is qualifying good. We saw last week, it means so much with this car. Track position is everything -- the leader is running 29.50, second place is running 30-flat and third place is running 30.50s and it doesn't matter who is in first, second or third -- that is what they're going to run. Qualifying good is going to be crucial and staying there to maintain that track position."
How much of a difference has it made to not worry about qualifying?
"Last year we ran fast some of the times and this year we've been able to do it most of the time. Next year hopefully we can continue that pattern and do it all the time. A lot of it is contributed to the fact that we don't have to worry about qualifying. Last year, going through that experience and having to qualify every week -- you don't know what that's like until you go through it. I never did -- it was one of the most painful things I've ever had to go through on a weekly basis as a race car driver. To say that it didn't distract us on Sunday, to some extent, would be a complete lie. A lot of it too is just building a stronger team -- we've got some new people on board that really brought some good things to the table. Kevin (Hamlin) and Jay Frye -- Red Bull is getting stronger and Toyota is getting stronger -- all the way around we are growing as a group and that has had a lot to do with it as well."
-credit: toyota motorsport