BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC MONTE CARLO SS SPEAKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT FUTURE PLANS TO LEAVE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS BRIAN VICKERS: I guess I'll go ahead and start with the facts, what we've already talked about. At this point right now, Hendrick and I...
BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC MONTE CARLO SS SPEAKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT FUTURE PLANS TO LEAVE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS
BRIAN VICKERS: I guess I'll go ahead and start with the facts, what we've already talked about. At this point right now, Hendrick and I are both looking to explore other options next year for the betterment of both parties involved.
The fact is that this is where my heart is, and this was a tough decision for all of us, a tough decision for me. You know, one question I'm sure you're going to ask is why, and yeah, the fact is that this is a professional sport, and performance is the bottom line. For whatever reason, me and the 25 car as a team have not performed to the expectations I've had or Hendrick have had.
I take full responsibility for my part in that, and that's why I think it's just best at this point that we both look at other options and try to do the best thing for everybody involved.
Q. When did you approach Rick with this?
BRIAN VICKERS: Recently.
Q. Last week, last couple weeks?
BRIAN VICKERS: Recently.
Q. Did you go to him?
BRIAN VICKERS: Yes.
Q. Have you heard from other teams or do you expect to have a decision in your future?
BRIAN VICKERS: Anything that's being discussed with any other parties at this point is going to be held private until the right time. But like I said, we're both looking at all of our options.
Q. When did you sign the extension through 2009?
BRIAN VICKERS: I haven't signed an extension. All of our contract stuff is going to be held private.
Q. How tough was this for you to make this decision?
BRIAN VICKERS: It was very tough. You know, Hendrick is where my heart is. It's where my heart has been and it's where my heart will always be for a lot of reasons.
Q. Why is that? We know you have past allegiances there. Some say it made it more difficult for you to hang out there, sort of a shadow.
BRIAN VICKERS: I don't think I have to go into details why my heart is there.
Q. Was it hard to tell Rick that you wanted to explore, and is one reason why you felt like there were so many people ahead of you?
BRIAN VICKERS: The fact is this was a very, very difficult decision for me. This was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life to this point, but I took responsibility and made the best decision I could with the information I had in front of me.
Q. What is the core of your decision of why?
BRIAN VICKERS: Just like I said a minute ago, this is a professional sport, and at the end of the day, me and the 25 car have not performed to our expectations. You know, I take my responsibility in that, my part in that, and we're not going to go into details of why, but the fact is that's the fact.
You know, we're going to look at other options for the betterment of both parties.
Q. Why now? Were you waiting for a particular point in the season to make this decision?
BRIAN VICKERS: When I made my decision, the first step in the process was to communicate that to a man that I have a lot of respect for, Rick Hendrick, and then decide what to do moving forward with that. I mean, right now, I am the driver of the #25 GMAC Chevy. That is the facts, and that is going to remain that way for the rest of this year, excluding very, very, very extreme circumstances that nobody sees happening, and I'm going to give this team 100 percent. I'm going to be a professional, and I'm sure they're going to do the same for me.
Nothing would mean more to me than going out and winning a race in this car for a lot of reasons.
Q. Why factors into the decision of what to do next?
BRIAN VICKERS: Right now what we're looking at is we're going to keep driving until the right time, but we're going to look at all of our options, and as soon as we decide something, we'll make everybody aware of that.
Q. Are you saying that you're leaving without something on the horizon that's almost firm, and have you had a lot of options?
BRIAN VICKERS: Right now we're both going to look at all of our options, and anything, any details are going to be held private until the right time.
Q. Have you had a lot of options? I mean, you're obviously at the right age and the right experience, you have Hendrick background. You're probably pretty appealing.
BRIAN VICKERS: I would like to think so. Like I said, the first step in the process was to communicate my thoughts and concerns to Hendrick Motorsports. We mutually agreed that it's best that we both look at other options, and that's where we're at, we're moving forward.
Q. Why do you think it came down to this? What could have been changed?
BRIAN VICKERS: I'm not going to go into why. Like I said, there's one fact, that we haven't performed together to either of our expectations. I take my responsibility in that, and we're going to both look at other options for the betterment of both parties.
Q. Did you lose sleep over this?
BRIAN VICKERS: Absolutely. This is the hardest decision I've had to make in my life to this point. That's going to keep anybody up at night a little bit.
Q. I know expectations were high. How frustrating has this year been so far?
BRIAN VICKERS: It has been frustrating for everyone, but right now our focus is to do whatever we can to make this team the best possible. I owe that and we owe that to Hendrick Motorsports, to GMAC, to Chevrolet, to everybody involved, and that's exactly what I'm going to go out there and do.
Q. Are you exploration options from the sounds of things? There's a bunch of rides open, so ??
BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, that may very well be the case. Right now it was a decision that had to be made, what's best for both parties involved. That decision is made, now we'll go see what's going to happen from here.
Q. When do you think you'll know something?
BRIAN VICKERS: I don't know. I mean, that's hard to say. Like I said, whatever happens, we're going to keep driving at this point, and as soon as we know, you'll be the first to know.
Q. In some years it doesn't seem like there are a lot of rides available, this year it does seem like there's opening up a lot for next year. Did that play into it, though, that you have options?
BRIAN VICKERS: Right now, like I said, I made a decision based on what I felt was best for everybody involved, and things happen for a reason. Things come together at certain times in history for a reason, and I've got to believe that everything that's happened so far, with this situation and everything that's happened in my life has happened for a reason. Just keep moving forward.
Q. How did Rick and your teammates react to the news when they found out?
BRIAN VICKERS: Obviously Rick was disappointed, and I'm disappointed that it got to this, as well. But I'm honored to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports and to know Rick and be friends with him and am very impressed with the respect and professionalism that everybody has handled the situation, from my teammates to the people involved at Hendrick Motorsports, including Mr. Hendrick himself.
Q. With all the ties you have here and everything that's happened, do you think a fresh start might just be the best thing at this point?
BRIAN VICKERS: Exactly. Like you said, just exactly like you said, I think that's the ?? that was the decision, the tough decision that somebody had to make was with everything that's taken place, is the best thing for everybody involved a fresh start. You know, we both feel that maybe that is the case.
Q. I have a lot of emails from fans who are, like, you're going into uncharted territory. You are really young so you have a lot of years, but leaving Hendrick is a scary thing for most of the people that have been following you.
BRIAN VICKERS: It's not uncharted territory. There are other guys that have had to make this very tough decision, as well, who are still in the sport today driving. The fact remains that this is a very tough decision because Hendrick Motorsports, without a doubt, are the best organization out there. Rick Hendrick is an awesome man, he's a great leader. That organization is one of the best places that I work, that I've ever worked with. It wasn't an easy decision, but like I said, it was a tough one, but somebody had to make it, and I made the best decision I could for everybody involved.
Q. Is it important for you to be a marquee driver? I mean for a driver in general to be a lead driver, is there such a thing where one guy gets more, gets ?? if you want to get the equipment you want to get, is there such a thing, is that important to winning?
BRIAN VICKERS: Obviously getting the best stuff you can is important to winning. At Hendrick Motorsports, I absolutely feel that Rick and his staff have given all these teams everything they possibly can.
Q. Is there kind of a jinx or a bad omen of the winning of the 25? The 25 seems to always have struggled.
BRIAN VICKERS: Well, it has, and I can't answer that question. If I had the answer to that question, then we would go fix it (laughter). If we had to do a rain dance around the thing, I don't know what ?? but unfortunately whether it's bad luck or what, you know, that's the facts.
Q. Do you leave Hendrick Motorsports with a lot because you worked at Hendrick? As a driver who's friends with Jeff Gordon, as a driver who's been with Hendrick, does that give you experience to take elsewhere at such a young age?
BRIAN VICKERS: It does. It's been an honor to work at Hendrick Motorsports, and I've gained so much knowledge and experience from that, to be teammates with Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson, Terry Labonte and to learn from Rick and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports is something I'll carry with me for the rest of my life. It's been an honor.
Q. I hate to be redundant; we got in here late obviously. These are questions you've already answered, I'm sorry. Why make this decision?
BRIAN VICKERS: You know, why is the bottom line, it's a professional sport, and there's expectation. Unfortunately me and the 25 car haven't performed to either my expectations or Hendrick Motorsports' expectations, and I felt like it was best for both parties involved to explore other options.
I take full responsibility for my part in that performance. I'll be happy to take full responsibility for my part in it.
Maybe a fresh start is good for everyone, and we're going to both look at other options.
Q. As you look for other opportunities, what exactly are you looking for?
BRIAN VICKERS: I'm looking for the best opportunity I feel I have a chance to win races.
There's only one reason I came to race cars, and that's to win races and championships. I'm going to go where I feel like I have the best opportunity to do that.
Q. Do you not feel like you have that here?
BRIAN VICKERS: For whatever reason, the fact remains that me and the 25 car have not performed to my expectations or Hendrick Motorsports', and like I said, I'll take my part in my responsibility of that, but that's the fact. I've been here for almost three years, and that's it. I felt like it's best for both of us to look at other options.
Q. Anything lined up yet?
BRIAN VICKERS: No.