CORNELIUS, N.C. — Brian Vickers makes his 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup debut at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday in the Aaron’s Dream Machine. It’s the first of six races for Vickers in Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota. Vickers joins drivers Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip who will share driving duties in the No. 55. Under the guidance of crew chief Rodney Childers, the No. 55 is tenth in owner points. Although this weekend marks the first time Vickers and Childers have worked together, the North Carolinians have known each other a long time.
BRIAN VICKERS: “Rodney (Childers) and I go back about 20 years. I first met him when I was eight-years-old. He was racing go-karts in the World Karting Association. Rodney was always one of the guys to beat. He helped me when I was first getting going. Rodney, Corey Smith and my parents really taught me how to race go-karts. He was very talented. He was kind of a mentor and I looked to him for guidance. It’s only taken us 20 years to work together again. We’ve been friends, stayed in touch, but just haven't worked together until now.”
CREW CHIEF AS A RACER: “It’s huge to have someone on the radio with you who understands what you are telling him. If I had a crew chief who hadn't raced, I’d want to take him racing. I would want to take him to a school and just spend some time with him and get to know him and learn how to communicate. When you get on the radio and tell your crew chief you are loose in at Texas running 200 mph, it’s nice to know they understand what all that really means.”
RODNEY CHILDERS ON VICKERS: “As soon as I decided I was done racing and went to work for a Cup team and he was still on his path of running Hooters Pro Cup and moving up to the Busch Series, I felt like there would be something there sometime down the road. Not only am I friends with Brian, but I know his family real well and talk to a lot of his friends probably even more than I do to Brian. Every time I see Brian’s Dad at the track he’s always saying ‘I wish you all could get together some time.’ They want someone who's going to put a lot of effort in to Brian. So it’s been going on a long time and now it’s finally happening.”
“Brian was put in a bad position just like anyone else. It was a deal to where things just didn't work out like everyone hoped. He ended up being the odd man out and there are only so many Cup rides now that are good rides. He was determined he wasn't going to take anything other than a good ride. I think he’s really good. He’s just like anybody else in the series whether you are a driver, crew chief or pit crew guy. You have to have the confidence you are surrounded by the right people. If you have that then it makes all the difference in the world. He’s been through some stuff in the last few years where they have changed crew chiefs and crew guys on him quite a bit. You have to wake up every morning knowing you got the right people around you and that they’ll do the right job. Hopefully, he’ll feel that way when he gets in our car.”