Camry driver Brian Vickers earned the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) win for Red Bull Racing Team since the team entered the series in 2007 on Sunday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. The 25-year-old Thomasville, N.C.-native...
Camry driver Brian Vickers earned the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) win for Red Bull Racing Team since the team entered the series in 2007 on Sunday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway.
The 25-year-old Thomasville, N.C.-native was able to conserve fuel throughout the final 51 laps of the race to pick up his second career NSCS win (Talladega - October 2006).
Vickers led three times for 22 (of 200) laps after earning his sixth pole of 2009 and third consecutive at Michigan.
Today's win marks the first NSCS win for Toyota at Michigan, seventh NSCS win in 2009 and 17th since joining the series in 2007.
Toyota drivers Joey Logano (seventh), David Reutimann (ninth) and Denny Hamlin (10th) also posted top-10 finishes at Michigan.
Camry drivers Kyle Busch (23rd), Michael Waltrip (27th), Scott Speed (34th), Marcos Ambrose (35th), Robby Gordon (37th), Joe Nemechek (39th), Mike Skinner (41st) and Dave Blaney (42nd) were also in the field.
Hamlin (fifth) is the highest-ranking Toyota driver in the unofficial NSCS driver point standings following Michigan. With three races remaining before the 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' begins, Vickers (13th, 12 points behind 12th), Busch (15th, 70 points), Reutimann (16th, 118 points), Ambrose (17th, 317 points) and Logano (19th, 365 points) are also in the top-20 in NSCS points. The top-12 drivers in the points after Richmond (Sept. 12) make the 'Chase' field.
Were you concerned about the fuel your crew chief was asking you to conserve? "Yes and no - we went through it several times and he (Ryan Pemberton, crew chief) was asking me to give him two laps and I gave him five. He made the call and it was a great call - the two tires kept us out front. I don't know what to say. I'm so proud of this whole Red Bull team, Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) it feels so good to be in victory lane. We've gone through so many pains and so many down times together. I just have to thank the fans for coming out. I know the economy is down, but I am so thankful to have these NASCAR fans here. Even in a bad economy, they just about sell the place out."
What does this win mean to you? "I just can't thank these guys enough - everybody at the Red Bull shop, Red Bull Racing team, Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) - thank you so much. We've gone through a lot of pains together and this one feels pretty good. There in the closing laps, trying to save fuel and I got to race my buddy, Jimmie (Johnson)."
What did you think of today's race? "Well, it was a good race. Not necessarily one of our better races. It was a good car. He (Brian Vickers) did a great job. We had a great starting position, but it was a great race for us. We put together a race. Everybody got to participate in pit stops. We only put two tires on, got gas. Everybody had their hand in this win. Brian (Vickers) did a great job. When we came up here last time, I wasn't sure how good he was at saving fuel. Then I found out how good he was. I pretty much put the pressure on him there on that run. He needed to get exactly or better than what he had at this race last time, and he did exactly that. It's almost probably to the half gallon. That's pretty cool to be able to get it that close. I won't say it will happen every time, but that was cool to put that pressure on him, that gamble and it paid off."
What does it mean for this team to win the race today? "It was funny, there was a lot of things. Obviously, the team has come a long way in the last two and a half years. I'm sure in 2007 Brian (Vickers) had some questions about what the future was going to hold. One of the things we did last fall with the change was hiring Ryan (Pemberton, crew chief), when we got him to come over here. Really at that point there was never any question in my mind about putting two people together that would have great success for a very long time. I think they're both in similar stages in their careers, where they've done great things, but together I believe they can do some really great things. I think today was a culmination of that. So obviously winning the race, get the most points - - won the race, only 12 points out going into next week. We're still obviously eligible for the 'Chase.' Our goal this year is to win a race and make the 'Chase.' We've accomplished one of our goals. We're still eligible for one of our other ones. We'd like to thank Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development). Obviously, we've grown with them together. This is as much for them as it is for us. I think it's funny. I really believe this. Today was more of a relief. We've come close. Once you can mark that box off, it's much easier, in my opinion, once the team learns how to win. Today I think we obviously learned how to win. It's an exciting day."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How was your race car today? "We had a really good race car all day, I thought. We started off beginning of the race, able to move up into the top five. I was able to run there for a little bit. Then after the first pit stop, said (indiscernible) two tires, took four, we lost a lot of track position. I kept getting shuffled around on the restart. We had a good car. There coming to the end, you know, a lot of guys pitted. We stayed out. That was a mistake. It ended up working out all right for us. We didn't have to save any fuel. Overall it was a good day for us. Coming home seventh, compared to where we finished last time, I think we finished 25th the first race. Happy with what we gained on this one."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael
How was your car in today's race? "It ended being a lot better day than we thought. We struggled since we unloaded and the day went a lot better than I think we anticipated it going. We ended up with a decent finish. I'm proud of my guys and we just kept working all we could and rolled the dice this morning. We knew we weren't even going to be close the way we were so we had to try to do something. Rodney (Childers, crew chief) made the right call and the car was pretty good." How will you approach the final three races to get into the 'Chase?' "I am just trying to finish ahead of those guys - that's all we can do. It's going to be tough, but we just have to go race hard."
How did the changing weather today affect your car? "I think it got a little tighter at one point there and it freed back up again off and on. It wasn't drastic, but it was enough to where you could tell. It wasn't like night and day difference, but it was a pretty big difference."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
"We fought the balance of the car all day and then we got caught in fuel mileage game...but that always happens at Michigan. I was going as fast as I could in the FedEx Office Toyota after the final restart, I knew I had plenty of fuel and others needed to save - we just ran out of laps. Tenth was good for points, you always want to win but to put the FedEx Office Toyota in a safer spot in the standing going into the Chase - that is what matters, if you can't bring it home first. We were loose, Mike and the team tried to make the right adjustments - we just kept chasing it but never got it quite right. We were second at Bristol in the spring and hopefully you'll see the FedEx Toyota up front again in a few days."
STEVE ADDINGTON, crew chief, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What did you battle with the race car today? "It wasn't a good day. We battled track position early - I don't know what happened at the end. We got our track position and then lost a good bunch of that on the restart. We put two tires on it and topped it off with all we could and thought we were in good shape to go to the end. The car just got tight on us. I can't explain it - I'm trying to find out right now."
How do you approach these final three races to get into the 'Chase?' "We just looked at that and we're 70 points out - we'll just have to keep digging and go to Bristol and win."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie/Kingsford/Clorox Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 MOEN Toyota Camry, Robby Gordon Motorsports
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports
MIKE SKINNER, No 36 Guy Fieri Knuckle Sandwich Toyota Camry, Tommy Baldwin Racing
DAVE BLANEY, No. 66 Prism Motorsports Toyota Camry, Prism Motorsports
-credit: toyota motorsports