BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC MONTE CARLO SS: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ALL THE EXTRA SECURITY? "I don't know what to think. We appreciate the offer. We passed on that. It's unfortunate. I feel like if they were really ...
BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC MONTE CARLO SS:
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ALL THE EXTRA SECURITY? "I don't know what to think. We appreciate the offer. We passed on that. It's unfortunate. I feel like if they were really concerned, they would have called me personally. I haven't gotten a call or anything and neither has Hendrick Motorsports. If I would have done it, I would have handled it another way besides putting out a press release."
DO YOU THINK HUMPY WOULD DO A PUBLICITY STUNT? "Oh, of course not."
HOW HAS YOUR WEEK BEEN? "It's been good. For me, it's been a little bittersweet. More than anything, I hate it for the guys on the team. There are 25 GMAC team guys and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has worked so hard to see Ricky and Pop's car back in victory lane and haven't really been able to celebrate it like they should be able to. And it's unfortunate. I made a mistake. It wasn't intentional. It is what it is. There is nothing we can do about it now. After seeing some of the comments, I've been really impressed with (Dale Earnhardt) Junior. I gained a lot of respect for him and how he's handled everything.
HAVE YOU TALKED TO JIMMIE JOHNSON AT ALL THIS WEEK? "It's a busy week at Charlotte. I did leave Jimmie and Junior both a message."
DON'T YOU THINK HE WOULD HAVE RETURNED YOUR CALL? "You've got to ask him that. That's his choice."
JIMMIE JOHNSON SAID HE WASN'T SURE YOU SOUNDED SORRY IN THE MESSAGE YOU LEFT. DO YOU THINK HE'S JUST NOT GOTTEN OVER IT? "Well, yeah, you know, that's unfortunate. I don't really know how he feels. I've said time and time again it wasn't intentional. I've left him a message that I'm sorry it happened and that it wasn't intentional. It is what it is."
WHERE DOES YOUR RELATIONSHIP STAND WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON RIGHT NOW? "As life goes on, you're always going to have ups and downs with friends, no matter how close they are to you. You're not always going to agree or get along. But I think as time goes on, hopefully he'll realize that it wasn't intentional and understand that I was trying to push him to a win and we'll be fine. But only time will tell."
DO YOU THINK YOU'VE BEEN TREATED FAIRLY BY THE MEDIA AND FANS? "All in all, with the exception of a very small few, it's been great. My family and friends have been very excited and very supportive. I went to Hendrick Motorsports Tuesday and all the guys were so excited. I felt like they couldn't show it as much as they wanted to, but everybody there at Hendrick Motorsports was excited as a whole. The media has been really cool about it. I've done some interviews this week and they've gone really well. I've had some fans call in - all kinds of fans - our fans, and even Junior fans have just congratulated us and thought it was an awesome race."
HAVE YOU FELT LIKE A LAME DUCK SINCE YOU ANNOUNCED YOU ARE LEAVING HMS? "We put a stop to the lame duck pretty quick. We came out and had a top five the first race after the announcement and we've done our best to run as good as we can. I feel like as a whole we've run pretty good since then. I don't think there is anybody who can say there is any question of a lame duck. It's been tough at times, but we're all professionals and we go about our business and do the best we can."
REGARDING THE EXTRA SECURITY DETAILS AT THE TRACK THIS WEEKEND, DID THAT BUG YOU WHEN YOU FOUND OUT ABOUT IT? "Yeah, it did. It's unfortunate I had to read it in a press release. We passed on it. We appreciated the offer. I felt like if they were really genuinely concerned, they would have called me personally or contacted Hendrick Motorsports or something besides (issuing) a press release. But it is what it is."
WERE THERE ANY MOMENTS WHEN YOU FELT LIKE YOU NEEDED EXTRA SECURITY? "No, not at all. I have a lot more respect and know that the NASCAR fans as a whole - whether they're Junior fans or our fans or whatever - that they're not going to resort to violence. I don't believe that. I feel as a whole that we've got great fans. We've got a lot of them. And they're passionate about it. They're passionate about their sport. They're passionate about their drivers. And they're going to get emotional. Good for them. I love it. Dale Earnhardt Sr. always said, 'I don't care if they are hollering for me or booing me, as long as they're making noise.'
But I don't feel any reason that there should be a security issue."
IS IT SAD THAT THIS IS GOING TO OVERSHADOW YOUR VICTORY? "Oh, it's been bittersweet at times. But we've all soaked it up and gotten over it and gone on. I hate it for the team more than anybody. This GMAC team and so many people at Hendrick Motorsports have worked so long to get Ricky and Pop's car back in victory lane and we finally did. But it is a little overshadowed. But I think as time goes on, in a couple of weeks from now it'll still be a win and everybody will be excited about it."
HAVE YOU HAD A CONVERSATION WITH RICK HENDRICK SINCE TALLADEGA? "Yeah, I have actually. We've had a couple of great conversations. He came to victory lane. Obviously he was emotional about the win and excited for personal reasons. And at the same time, as the owner of Hendrick Motorsports it was a double-edged sword for him. But I had lunch with him the other day and we talked for a couple of hours and some great conversation and it was a lot of fun."
WAS HE CRITICAL AT ALL? "No, he wasn't. I think his job as an owner is to support all his teams. He went and supported the No. 48 (Johnson) and he supported us. He's been in this business for a long time and is very good at what he does. He understands that not everything is going to play out perfectly every time it happens. He knows that we were going for a one-two (finish) for his organization and unfortunately he knows some accidents happen and it is what it is. He's sad for those guys (No. 48 team), but he's very happy to see Ricky and Pop's car back in victory lane."
WHAT'S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THIS WEEK? "I think in general, most of the fans and media and family and friends have just said to ignore it all and just enjoy the victory. As a whole, that's been the message that's been sent to me is just not to worry about it or let it bother me and to just not let it bother me. We won the race; go enjoy it."
THE NEXT TIME AROUND, WOULD YOU BE LESS AGGRESSIVE? "Yeah, there is always a balance between being careful and being too careful and being aggressive and too aggressive. I did what I did for a reason. My intent was to get a one-two for Hendrick Motorsports. It was to push Jimmie past Junior for a victory and us to get a solid second. If we had a chance to pass him, we would have taken it. But that would still be my intent tomorrow. I don't know where I would have done anything differently. Without a little bump-drafting at superspeedways today the way the racing is, you're not going to pass anybody. So about the only other choice I had was to ride and be satisfied with second or third."
HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THE PRESS RELEASE FOR SECURITY? YOU DIDN'T READ IT ON THE INTERNET, DID YOU? "No, my PR guy, Chris Haid, informed me of it. And then I went and read it. I don't know what to say. It's unfortunate. It was never sent to me personally, or to Hendrick Motorsports. But like I said, it's unfortunate that somebody has added fuel to a fire that shouldn't be added to because I have so much respect for all the NASCAR fans - no matter whose fans there are. There are emotional about their sport and they love it. They love their drivers. But I don't think any of them are going to resort to violence."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE GETTING DUE RESPECT FOR WINNING A RACE? "I think as time has gone on. A lot of people were very emotional one way or the other right after the race. The feedback I've gotten from the fans and media as a whole as the week has gone on has been hey man, you won your first race. Go enjoy it. And it's tough. It is tough because of what happened. That's not how I wanted it to happen. But it's the way it happened. But as a whole, everybody has been very supportive and encouraging."
WHAT'S YOUR ROLE AS A NON-CHASE DRIVER RACING WITH CHASE CONTENDERS? "I would assume the role would be to work your teammate to try to push him to a one-two for Hendrick Motorsports. That's what I would expect if the roles were reversed. If I had a teammate behind me and I was running second, I would expect him to push me as hard as he could and hope we get a win. We all know that at 200 mph, we all make mistakes. I don't think there is a driver out there that hasn't made one; and I'm sure there will be plenty to make them in the future. Things happen. But I would expect my teammate to help us get a one-two for the team."
IF IT HAD GONE THE WAY IT WAS SUPPOSED TO AND JIMMIE GETS BY JUNIOR, WOULD YOU AND COULD YOU HAVE TRIED TO PASS HIM FOR THE WIN? "I would have tried. I'm not a guy who is going to settle for second. But it would have probably not worked. The chances of me being able to pass Jimmie by myself were slim and none. The only reason Jimmie even had a shot at passing Junior was the fact that I was pushing him. And nobody was behind me. So once we had gotten by Junior, he would have lost our draft - at least for a half a lap - which was all that was left. And it would have just been me and Jimmie and there was no way I could have passed him by myself."
BUT YOU WOULD HAVE? "I would have tried. I mean, I've got to try to win. Looking back at his quotes after the first Talladega when he passed me to win the race, he didn't regret it. He did what he had to do for his team and his sponsors to do what he had to do to win a race. And he always said he'd expect me to try to do the same thing. So given that circumstance, if we would have gotten by Junior, and it would have been then between me and him, I'm sure he would expect me to do the same thing to try to pass him the same way he passed me."
I'M SURE IT HELPS, BUT TO TEAMMATES HAVE TO BE BEST FRIENDS OR REALLY GOOD FRIENDS AWAY FROM THE TRACK? "It helps. I don't think it's necessary. It's just like at work. I'm sure there are people in a professional world that you or anybody else works with that works really great with. You make a great team at work. As long as everybody is professional and does their job and understands what that situation entails, I don't think that's a necessity. Can it help? Yeah. But it can also help too."
DOES IT HURT THAT THE GUYS YOU'VE BEEN CLOSE TO FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS ARE SNUBBING YOU TO A DEGREE? "I can't speak for them and I haven't read all their quotes. I don't know what they are but it is unfortunate. I think you always want the support of your friends and family in everything you do whether it's up or down."
-credit: gm racing