Vickers Relegated to a 37th Place Finish After Facing Transmission Woes at Watkins Glen Watkins Glen, N.Y. (August 10, 2009) -- Following a strong qualifying session which put the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota in the eighth starting position...
Vickers Relegated to a 37th Place Finish After Facing Transmission Woes at Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen, N.Y. (August 10, 2009) -- Following a strong qualifying session which put the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota in the eighth starting position for Saturday's Zippo 200 at the Glen, Brian Vickers knew he had a solid car for the 82-lap event. Seven laps into the race, however, Vickers found himself off the 2.45-mile course after being hit from behind while his car was stuck between gears. The No. 32 team was forced to the garage to change the transmission before returning to the track 20 laps later. On lap 51, the No. 32 returned to the garage, ending the day early and finishing in 37th-place.
Throughout both of Friday's practice sessions, the Dollar General team worked diligently on driver comfort in the road course car, working on the pedal and steering wheel locations. During the first practice, Vickers had difficulty shifting between second and third gear. When the situation did not improve, the team decided to change transmissions. Returning to the track, the No. 32 car was 12th on the charts for the first practice session. The final practice session proved again that the team had unloaded a strong car when Vickers shot to the 10th spot on the charts. The No. 32 team left for the evening, looking forward to Saturday and satisfied that the hard work would pay off.
With qualifying groups set by the first practice session's times, Vickers and the No. 32 Toyota were placed in the seventh group. With an impressive fast lap of 73.010-seconds, the No. 32 lined up in the eight spot to start the afternoon's event.
When the 82-lap event began, the Dollar General team was confident they had a car that would run up front. Vickers took the green flag and charged into the seventh position on the first lap. As the leaders ran single-file around the Watkins Glen, NY road course, he knew that with patience and calculated passing he would be able to move the No. 32 towards the front. Unfortunately, the opportunity would not occur.
On lap eight, Vickers was downshifting through turn one and could not get the car into second gear. With the No. 20 close behind him going into the turn, inadvertent contact was made, sending the No. 32 off the course. Vickers came on the radio immediately to report to the team that he couldn't get the car in gear to move it out of the dirt.
"I can't move," Vickers said. "They're going to have to throw the caution. I can't get the car in gear to get back on the track."
Crew chief, Trent Owens replied, "10-4. Go ahead and hop out and let them tow it to the garage. Make the trip to the care center and we'll meet you back at the car."
As Vickers took the required trip to the infield care center, the Dollar General team went to work immediately to replace the transmission. Vickers returned to the garage and climbed back into the Toyota. He drove it back to the track on lap 28. When the next caution of the afternoon came out on lap 35, Vickers brought the Camry to pit road for fuel only. Vickers reported that he was again experiencing trouble getting the car into second gear.
On lap 51, the No. 32 returned to the garage. Baffled by the bad luck that persisted, the Dollar General team was relegated to a 37th-place finish at Watkins Glen International.
"I hate it for the Dollar General guys," said Vickers. "It was just a frustrating weekend. I thought we had the problem fixed when we changed transmissions on Friday. But when I went to down shift going into turn one, it was just locked in gear. I couldn't do anything with it. The No. 20 got into us but it wasn't his fault. I told my spotter to tell him. I just hate it because we had a really fast car. The guys worked really hard all weekend. They never gave up."
Vickers will drive the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota next weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Michigan International Speedway next weekend for the CARFAX 250. T he Saturday afternoon race will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN2 and on MRN Radio starting at 3:00 p.m. EST. The green flag is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST.