Brian Vickers and the Dollar General Team finish 13th at Atlanta Motor Speedway HAMPTON, Ga. (September 8, 2009) -- Although long green-flag runs in Saturday night's Degree V12 300 hindered the Brian Vickers' climb to the front, the never-quit...
Brian Vickers and the Dollar General Team finish 13th at Atlanta Motor Speedway
HAMPTON, Ga. (September 8, 2009) -- Although long green-flag runs in Saturday night's Degree V12 300 hindered the Brian Vickers' climb to the front, the never-quit drive of his and the Dollar General team resulted in a 13th-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Vickers topped the first practice chart and sat a solid second-fastest in final practice during the early morning sessions. By the time the No. 32 took to the track for qualifying on Saturday afternoon, the conditions had changed and Vickers battled a loose-handling car around the 1.54-mile speedway. His 32.281-second lap put him in the 16th spot to start the race that night under the lights.
When the green flag dropped, Vickers immediately went to work to move towards the front. By lap four, he had advanced into the top-10. He reported that the car was still very loose. As he continued to run the high-line around the track, Vickers moved the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota into the top five only two laps later.
The first caution of the night came at lap 26 as the No. 62 connected with the outside wall in turn 1. The Dollar General team knew they had a challenge to face. The hoses connected to the left-side rear window had come loose following the afternoon qualifying session. NASCAR required the team to fix the hoses during the first pit stop. Vickers brought the No. 32 Toyota to pit road on lap 28 for four fresh tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. He returned to pit road on lap 29 so the team could reattach the hoses. The additional time cost valuable track position, as Vickers was relegated from fourth to a 24th-place position for the restart.
Vickers continued to battle the loose-handling race car, but had moved to the 18th spot when the next caution of the night occurred. Following suit with the leaders, the No. 32 remained on the track.
When the race resumed, Vickers went to work again to move the Dollar General Toyota forward. By lap 82, He advanced back into the top-10. As the race remained under green-flag conditions, teams began to make their next round of pit stops. Crew chief, Trent Owens, called Vickers to pit road on lap 87. The Dollar General crew quickly changed four tires and packed the Toyota with fuel. They made wedge and air pressure adjustments to help with the loose-handling condition that Vickers continued to report. Vickers drove up to the ninth position on lap 101.
On lap 124, the third and final caution flag of the night was displayed for debris on the track. Owens and Vickers immediately began discussing their pit strategy for the remainder of the race.
"I think we should pit," said Owens. "This race has a green flag feel to it."
"I agree," replied Vickers. "The car is good, just still a little too loose. I definitely need something for the drive off the corner. I just can't get on the throttle without sliding."
Vickers brought the No. 32 to pit road on lap 127. The crew changed four tires, added fuel and put a spring rubber in the left rear. When the race resumed on lap 130, Vickers was in the 11th spot.
As predicted, the race remained under green-flag conditions and fuel strategy became the topic up and down pit road. On lap 182, Owens asked Vickers to save five laps of fuel, hoping the caution flag would come out in the closing laps. With no caution, Owens told spotter, Chris Lambert, to bring Vickers to pit road on lap 190. He then told Vickers that he could run as hard as he liked. On lap 190, the No. 32 came to pit road for a splash-and-go. Vickers took the checkered flag in the 13th position.
"The Dollar General Toyota was really good at the beginning, just a little loose," said Vickers. "Having to come back in and fix hoses hurt us a lot. After that we kept getting more and more free and the track didn't tighten up at all like you would expect in a night race. The Dollar General crew worked hard and never gave up tonight. It just wasn't the finish we'd hoped for."
David Reutimann returns to the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota next weekend at Richmond International Raceway.