BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Starting Position: 1st What does it mean to earn your third consecutive pole at Michigan? "It's pretty cool to get three poles in a row here. To have as many poles as we've had...
What does it mean to earn your third consecutive pole at Michigan?
"It's pretty cool to get three poles in a row here. To have as many poles as we've had this season is very special for me and I think we're very proud as a team. I was just talking to Robin Pemberton (NASCAR) and we were just talking about the poles this season and I told him, 'You know, you never wish a good thing away, but I would probably give up every one of them for a win.' Don't get me wrong, we're very proud of the pole we have here today. The Red Bull Toyota performed fantastically in qualifying, the car was great. We were good in practice, not great, but we made some changes and made it better and we ended up on the pole. Turn one and two was fantastic, turn three and four I felt like I left a little on the table. I know we could have run a faster lap. I got through (turns) one and two so good and I was carrying so much speed into (turns) three and four that I over drove the entry a little bit and that definitely hurt us, but not enough that we couldn't stay on the pole, which was great."
Can you get yourself in the 'Chase' in these next four races?
"I definitely think we can get in the 'Chase.' I know we can get in the 'Chase,' but that doesn't mean we will. We've got a lot of work ahead of us and we can't make any mistakes. We can't afford to make any mistakes on our behalf and we can't afford for anybody around us to make any mistakes. We've made our fair share this year on pit road or engines or track or whatever. That's the reason that we're in the position we're in. I feel like we've run better than 14th in the points, but we've had a lot of things go wrong. A lot of them weren't anyone on Red Bull's, at our teams fault. We've been taken out of many races through incidents involving other people where they've crashed in front of us or beside us or have collected us. We've had flat tires, we've had different things that are just part of it. I think everybody takes their turn at the barrel - that goes around and comes around. Everybody is going to have some bad luck at some point in the season. We just hope that from here forward we have less than everyone else."
Is this a race where you need to make something happen?
"Yes and no. We know this is a good track for us and we want to capitalize on that. We've got several other good tracks for us. Bristol is not one of my best tracks, but I have run well there. Atlanta has been a great track for us. Richmond has been a good track for us as well - sat on two poles there and run really well there also. If we don't have a good day Sunday doesn't mean we're out of it. We've still got three more opportunities. With that being said, we'd like to go win the race and let it take care of itself. One thing we can't afford to do is put ourselves in a position to lose a lot of points trying to gain a few. If we're a top-five car, knock on wood, hopefully we're at least that all day long if not a winning car. We would like to lead every lap, but if we're a strong contender all day then we can't afford to take some crazy pit strategy that could put us at risk of running out of fuel trying to win the race. We've kind of got to think that we really want to win, but not at the cost of the 'Chase.'
What has kept you from winning on Sunday with all your poles?
"We've had fast cars. Unfortunately, I know the guys are working really hard and they've gotten a lot better, but one area that has hurt us a lot this year is pit stops. There's been a lot of races that we've been leading at the end of the race or contending for the win at the very end of the race and come in the pits and then lose seven spots. That's difficult and it's a challenge. I'm not trying to beat up on those guys because they work hard and I know they're giving 100 percent and they've gotten a lot better. The facts are the facts. The same thing that happened to us in the race at Pocono - it happened again and it happened to us at Indy. Actually the Indy stops were pretty good. I don't know - I wish I had an answer for you and I hate to blame it on luck because I'm not a very superstitious guy to be honest with you. I think you work hard and you create your own luck, but sometimes there's just things that are out of your control and you just don't know why they happen. You're leading the race and you pit and you come out fifth and it rains. That was Charlotte. At Darlington, we cut a tire under green and went two laps down and made both of them back up under green - had the fastest car there, but we couldn't help that, we just cut a tire. It just seems to happen to us at the wrong time and the wrong place. Hopefully, Sunday that won't be the case. Hopefully, we'll do our part and we won't make mistakes - I won't make any mistakes, we won't make mistakes on pit road, the engine will perform well, we'll have a great car and we'll have a little bit of luck."
What type of nickname should you have with all your poles?
"I don't know. People call me 'Sheriff' - Jimmie (Johnson) likes to call me 'Sheriff.' Don't ask why - it's nothing bad. The 'Rocket man,' once he (Ryan Newman) got that name, he hasn't been much of a 'Rocket man' so maybe I am better off not having a name and let's just hope it continues. Let's just go with a great team and a great car and we're on poles. 83 - Brian Vickers, we'll just stick with that and hopefully the rest will continue."
Do you feel like you are below the radar regarding getting into the 'Chase?'
"No offense to the media - I don't read a lot of racing news anymore. I used to. I've always been a huge racing fan - watched every race growing up and kept up with the sport. When you're actually in it and the news is being written about you, it can change your emotion sometimes and its hard to ignore some things that are good and bad. Just because it's good doesn't mean it's good for you to read it. I try to steer clear from it and just try to keep a level head. We're going to have good days, we're going to have bad days. Some articles are going to be good and some articles are going to be bad. I stay away from it so I don't really care that much. I don't mean that in an offensive way. If they're writing articles about us getting in the 'Chase' or they're writing articles about Kyle (Busch), it doesn't matter to me as long as we're performing. I'm in it to go out there and do the job. My main focus is getting in the 'Chase,' whether someone is writing about it or not."
What emphasis do you put on qualifying here in Michigan?
"I think being on the pole is big visibility anywhere. The two tracks that probably get the most notoriety for it would be probably Indy and Daytona. From an overall media standpoint, here it's obviously, I don't know what you call it anymore. I don't know if it's the Big Three's home or not. I guess a couple of them are based out of Washington D.C. now and I don't know where the rest are based. I never really thought about it that way. I don't come here to sit on the pole because General Motors or Ford or Dodge used to be headquartered here. I'm not trying to be funny, I don't know where they're headquartered any more. The government owns them so I don't know what they'd call the headquarters, except for Ford, I don't want to make a false statement. For us, it's just about being on the pole. When it comes from a competition standpoint, I think Michigan, a lot of people put emphasis on being on the pole here in Michigan because of that pit stall. The pit stall here, the first pit stall in Michigan is the closest of any pit stall on the circuit to the scoring line, to the exit line, the pit out line. Not the speed line, but the pit line for where they score the cars, so it's a bigger advantage here. It's always an advantage, but it's a bigger advantage here than most places and I think that's why a lot of people put emphasis on qualifying. For us, we made two race runs and three qualifying runs. The whole emphasis was not on qualifying for us."
Do you know when your contract will be resolved for next year?
"No -- I'm not trying to avoid the question, I'm just tired of talking about it. It's a similar situation, it's been going on since October and I'm just about burnt out about it. We agreed on everything and it just kept changing. There's no further news."
Do you feel you can make the 'Chase'?
"I feel good about it. We're under 100 points with four races to go and we're headed upwards not downwards. We have the momentum going in the right direction. That could change with a flip of a coin, of course that could change soon, but I feel really strong about it. I think our chances are as good as anyone in that bubble area. Obviously Tony (Stewart) has better chances than we do, but I think we're plenty capable of it. I was talking to someone this morning and they said 'Would you rather be in the 'Chase' being chased or would you rather be out of the 'Chase', chasing someone?' Hindsight, if you'd have asked me in the beginning of the year if I'd rather be in the 'Chase' at this point or out of it, of course I'd say I'd rather be in it, but I think there's a little bit of an advantage as well to have the target in front of you instead of on your back. For us, the target is in front of us and we know what we have to do and we just have to go do it."
-credit: toyota motorsports