Strong Run for Vickers and the Dollar General Team Ended by Late Race Accident KANSAS CITY, Kan. (October 5, 2009) -- Brian Vickers and the Dollar General team headed to Kansas Speedway this weekend, confident that they had a shot to win at the...
Strong Run for Vickers and the Dollar General Team Ended by Late Race Accident
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (October 5, 2009) -- Brian Vickers and the Dollar General team headed to Kansas Speedway this weekend, confident that they had a shot to win at the 1.5-mile track. Vickers started the Kansas Lottery 300 in the fourth spot and remained in the top-five for most of the race. Two on-track incidents relegated Vickers to a 28th-place finish. The first contact sent the No. 32 for a spin and put Vickers deep into traffic for the restart. The second accident resulted in hard contact with the wall and an early ending to the day for the No.32 team.
Under partly cloudy skies and with chilly, fall-like temperatures, the NASCAR Nationwide Series teams took the green flag at Kansas Speedway on Saturday afternoon. During the first lap of the 200-lap event, Vickers advanced the Dollar General Toyota into the third position. On the second lap, the first caution of the afternoon occurred. Vickers reported that the car's handling was a little tight in the center of the turns. The race resumed on lap five.
As green-flag racing continued, Vickers updated crew chief, Trent Owens, on the changes in the handling of the car. Once out of traffic, the car's handling was neutral. Vickers began to try the high-side of the track to see if he could gain additional speed, but instead found that it resulted in the car developing a tight condition. He returned to the speedway's lower line. On lap 44, Vickers informed Owens that the car's handling was beginning to tighten up, regardless of the line that he was running. Owens told Vickers that they would pit in 12 laps and give him the needed adjustments.
On lap 56, Vickers came to pit road for service under green-flag conditions. The Dollar General team quickly changed four tires, made an air pressure adjustment and packed the Camry with fuel. Just as the team was finishing the pit stop, the caution flag flew for the second time that day. Vickers was able to make it back onto the track in front of the leader, remaining on the lead lap. As pit stops cycled through, some cars had been on pit road when the caution flag was displayed and others came to pit road while under caution, NASCAR went to work to determine the order of the cars. The No. 32 Toyota was placed in the third position for the restart of the race on lap 64.
Vickers immediately jumped into the second position, however, over the course of the next 10 laps, he slipped back to fifth, citing that the car had developed a very loose condition through the entire turn. The needed caution came on lap 76. Owens called Vickers to pit road on lap 78. The No. 32 crew changed the two right-side tires and made air pressure adjustments to assist with the loose handling of the car. Vickers did not lose any track position, restarting the race in fifth on lap 81.
At the race's halfway point, Vickers reported that the car continued to have a loose condition on entry. Immediately following his report, the No. 32 wiggled and brushed the outside wall. Spotter Chris Lambert informed Vickers and Owens that there was damage to the right rear quarter panel but that neither of the right-side tires appeared damaged from the impact.
The caution flag on lap 108 was the opportunity that the team needed. Vickers brought the No. 32 Toyota to pit road on lap 110 for service. The Dollar General team changed four tires, made a track bar adjustment and assessed and repaired the body damage from the contact with the wall. The unscheduled pit stop cost the team track position and placed the No. 32 Camry in the 16th position for the restart on lap 113.
Vickers went to work to advance the Dollar General Toyota back towards the front. He had gained four positions when the next caution flag flew on lap 137 for debris on the race track. On lap 138, Vickers returned to pit road. Owens called for air pressure and track bar adjustments to further help with the loose condition. He also gambled and ordered a two-tire pit stop, gaining valuable track position in the process. Vickers was the first car off of pit road, restarting the race on lap 143 from the lead.
Vickers held off a charge from the No. 18 for four laps, however, fresher tires prevailed and he settled into the fourth position. On lap 147, he was struck from behind and sent into a spin through the grass. Fortunately, Vickers did not make contact with the wall or other cars and was able to put the No. 32 into gear and drive it to pit road. The Dollar General crew changed the four tires. Like most of the teams up and down pit road, they were running low on tires, requiring them to put the last set of sticker tires onto the left side and a pair of scuffed tires on the right side. When the race resumed on lap 152, Vickers was in the 18th position.
"We are really loose again," said Vickers. "It feels like we have no right-side grip."
"10-4," replied Owens. "We're getting another set of scuffed tires ready for you if the caution comes out."
On lap 183, the caution came out once again. Vickers brought the Dollar General Camry to pit road on lap 185 for only four tires and an air pressure adjustment. When the race resumed on lap 189, he restarted in the 18th position.
In heavy traffic, Vickers battled to advance the No. 32. On lap 191, the No. 62 got loose as he dove on the inside of the Dollar General Toyota in turn two. The car made contact with Vickers, sending both cars into the outside wall. Vickers drove the Camry back to the garage. The damage to the car was severe and ended the day for the Dollar General team, relegating the No. 32 to a 28th-place finish in the Kansas Lottery 300.
"Today was just not what we thought it was going to be," said Vickers. "The Dollar General team unloaded a fast car. We made some adjustments during Friday's practice and knew we had a solid car for today. We were able to qualify well and start in the fourth spot. After that, things just seemed to start to go awry. About halfway through the race, the track conditions changed and the car was just way too loose on entry. I couldn't hold onto it and brushed the wall. After that, we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Trent and I agreed to take the gamble with the two-tire stop. It put us up front, which was where we needed to be. We knew we'd slide back a little, but we never expected to get run over. The last accident wasn't Brendan's fault at all. He just got loose in the corner and we happened to be next to him at the time. We'll put this behind us and move on to California next week."
Brian Vickers will pilot the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota next weekend at Auto Club Speedway.
Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series travels to Auto Club Speedway for the Copart 300.