BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO visited with the media prior to the morning test segment. ON RACING IN THE NEXTEL CUP SERIES AND THE DAYTONA 500 FOR THE FIRST TIME "It's very exciting, obviously. Being down here (Daytona) ...
BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO visited with the media prior to the morning test segment.
ON RACING IN THE NEXTEL CUP SERIES AND THE DAYTONA 500 FOR THE FIRST TIME "It's very exciting, obviously. Being down here (Daytona) with Hendrick Motorsports and GMAC and Chevrolet and all these engineers is great. Jeff (Gordon) and I were talking about this the other day and how it brings back memories about his first time here with Hendrick Motorsports and all the engineers and all the great people. That's what it comes down to is the people that put everything together. It's a really neat time. You see a lot of these veteran drivers coming back down here and they enjoy getting in the race car but it's still a Daytona test. Daytona is awesome racing and I love it when I'm racing. Testing - just going out there by yourself for two laps and coming in and switching cars was starting to wear on me at the end of the day. I want to be around somebody, not by myself. It's a neat time and a neat experience. It's a goal and dream of mine that I've worked for all my life. To finally be here means everything."
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR GO-KART EXPERIENCE HERE AT DAYTONA? "I can't remember my exact age. When I was 15 years old I was racing Hooters Cup. When I was 14 and 15 I was racing Late Models. So, I think I was between the ages of 9 and 13 when I was at Municipal Stadium. I don't remember a whole lot of it because I was so young. But I do remember a lot of key things like riding by the Speedway and my dad saying something about wouldn't I like to be racing there. Heck yeah, that would be a lot of fun. That place is so big and the cars are so fast. That's where I wanted to race someday. I raced here last year in the Busch Series but it still wasn't the Daytona 500. This year is going to be a really neat time for me and for my family as well. My mom and dad worked so hard and gave up so many things like I did to help me get here. It's a pretty neat experience for me."
HOW ARE YOU PREPARING YOURSELF FOR THE VARIOUS TYPES OF TRACKS YOU'LL RACE ON THIS YEAR? "We're going to be testing a lot and I'll be talking to my teammates about some of the differences - Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Terry Labonte - I've got a lot of great resources there. There are good notes at Hendrick Motorsports. I'll just be focusing and concentrating. To me, everything is mental. You just switch your mind to it and you learn to adapt. You think about the differences and test at these race tracks you haven't been to and you go our there and do your best."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE STANDARDS THAT RYAN NEWMAN HAS SET FOR NEWCOMERS TO THE SPORT AND CAN YOU WIN 8 RACES IN 2005? "That would be awesome. I think everybody grows at different rates. And yeah, we want to win 8 races. We want to win 10. Actually we want to win 38. But no matter what, we're going to go out there and do our best and get as much experience as possible. A lot of it is my growing and learning these cars and adapting to them. A lot of it is just the team doing the same thing. Most of it is just us working together and the chemistry between the team and me. I think that will be there and it'll be great. But it's going to take time. When all that comes together and gels, I think is when you'll see the wins start coming. Hopefully we can get that accomplished in a short about of time and we'll have a chance to win those races."
ON THE BATTLE OF THE BUMPER STICKERS WITH JEFF GORDON "We have a place together in Charlotte with Ricky (Hendrick). We just play pranks on each other a lot. We've become good friends over time. Actually it was Ricky and I who got him on that one. His car was sitting out in the driveway. We loaded it down with Mercury Outboard stickers and Jeff Gordon stickers. We got him pretty good on that one.
"A friend of mine had given me an old bumper sticker and a Jeff Gordon hat and had asked me to get Jeff to sign it. It was sitting in the back of my car. We had just gotten back from the gym and we were at the grocery store when Jeff said he had to go outside and change his shoes or something. So we came out and he had put this Jeff Gordon sticker on the back of my car. He said he got it out of the car so now he owes me a bumper sticker. He's got to get my friend one and replace that one. We just have fun and kid around. I think how all that got out was because of Bobby Labonte. Back home in Thomasville I lived in the same neighborhood with Bobby. One day he saw me driving the car. Somehow I ended up with Jeff's car and he ended up with mine. I guess that's how word got out."
ON BEING A FAVORITE TO WIN THE '04 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD "I appreciate the support. It means a lot. I don't think anything has been decided yet. We've got a lot of races to go. There are a lot of great candidates for the title - a lot of people I've raced with in the past in the Busch Series and in Late Models - like Scott Riggs. It means a lot to me and the Hendrick Motorsports GMAC Chevy team as a whole to know that people feel like we're the number one candidate. We're going to do our best to live up to that."
ON THE DISADVANTAGES OF BEING A YOUNGER DRIVER SUCH AS NOT BEING ABLE TO COMPETE IN IROC THIS YEAR BECAUSE HE'S NOT 21 YEARS OLD "There are advantages and disadvantages to everything. Sometimes your greatest strength is your greatest weakness at the same time. Mine is being 20. It's a great strength and something I can use it to my advantage a lot and sometimes it hurts me in a lot of ways. I want to thank IROC for giving me the opportunity, but for certain reasons I'm not going to be able to run the IROC Series this year. And I hate that. But the invitation is still there for next year and in the future. I'm excited about that.
"I think being young has its advantages like the youthful desire that we young people have. But it has disadvantages because sometimes we don't know when to stop. Also, this (NASCAR) is about entertainment and marketing. The sponsors enjoy that youthful appearance. Certain ones do and certain ones don't. When you can start in the sport at 20, you've got 10 more years of experience when you're 30 than the guys coming in at age 25. A lot of team owners look at the long-term and those advantages of having a young driver. So there are a lot of advantages there and some disadvantages as well."