+ ATLANTA: A SIGHT FOR BV's SORE EYES Never before has Brian Vickers been so happy to see Atlanta Motor Speedway. Coming off a dismal 31st-place finish Sunday at Las Vegas, where his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota was a handful for 400 miles and ended...
+ ATLANTA: A SIGHT FOR BV's SORE EYES
Never before has Brian Vickers been so happy to see Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Coming off a dismal 31st-place finish Sunday at Las Vegas, where his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota was a handful for 400 miles and ended up five laps down, Vickers needs a solid showing. And Atlanta might just be the place to do it.
Vickers finished fifth there in March 2009 and followed that up with a seventh-place run in September. In six Atlanta starts driving Red Bull Racing Team equipment, Vickers owns four top 10s. All totaled, he has six top 10s in 13 starts.
"Atlanta has always been one of my favorite tracks," Vickers said. "It's fast and wide open, which really suits my driving style."
The 26-year-old nearly broke into victory lane last March at Atlanta. His No. 83 had Kurt Busch in its sights in the closing laps, but an untimely caution waved with four laps to go. On aging rubber and low on fuel, Vickers came into the pits in second and left in sixth. He ended up fifth. Vickers has one outside pole (March 2004) at the 1.54-mile track.
"We are in need of a good run after last week in Vegas," Vickers said. "I am confident in this team, and I can think of no better track in which to rebound and run up front. Atlanta's been a good track for us. Daytona was good. California was good. We had good cars, but we didn't have great finishes. Las Vegas was horrible, and we just want to get it behind us."
Teammate Scott Speed is enjoying a strong start to his sophomore season in Sprint Cup. He's one of only four drivers to lead a lap in all three races (Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick being the others).
He ranks 16th in the driver standings, and more importantly 16th in car owner points. Speed still must clear the top-35 hurdle for two more qualifying sessions (Friday at Atlanta and March 19 at Bristol), but he's built himself a nice little cushion based on consecutive top-20 finishes to open the season and a 22nd at Las Vegas.
At this point last season, Speed's No. 82 Red Bull Toyota ranked 37th in the car owner standings - eight points in the red. Entering Atlanta, the No. 82 sits 16th with 135 points to spare.
"All the guys on the team are really hyped up," Speed said. "We're 16th in points. We never would have expected that after last year. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going. We expected to be better, but you still have to keep digging."
Speed's first NASCAR race of any kind came at Atlanta in the March 2008 Camping World Truck event. He finished 27th, but returned in the fall to finish fifth. In his three Sprint Cup starts at Atlanta, he has a best finish of 24th in September 2009.
+ CLOUDLY WITH A CHANCE OF VICKERS
No Jim Cantore or Al Roker. Instead, the nation will get its Thursday night weather from a NASCAR driver.
Brian Vickers the meteorologist will make his debut from 7-8 p.m. ET Thursday on The Weather Channel - the 24-hour cable television network headquartered just northwest of Atlanta that's devoted solely to monitoring Mother Nature. He'll do the weather live, as well as discussing the upcoming Kobalt Tools 500 and his season so far.
"I'm really looking forward to it. I never have done the weather before," Vickers said. "I think it should be pretty cool. The technology and how they track weather and monitor it ... learning about that process will be interesting. That's what I'm looking forward to the most. Just being behind the scenes and really knowing and understanding it will be really cool."
Despite his latest endeavor, Vickers has no plans for a career change.
"I may chase a storm to catch a big wave surfing or something," he said.
For the record, according to The Weather Channel's web site, the weekend forecast for Hampton, Ga., calls for sunny skies with temperatures approaching 60 degrees.