BRIAN VICKERS NO. 25 GMAC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW INFIELD AT DIS COMPARED TO WHAT IT WAS LIKE WHEN YOU RACED GO-KARTS HERE? "From what I've seen back then, honestly it wasn't that long ago, it hasn't changed a...
BRIAN VICKERS NO. 25 GMAC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW INFIELD AT DIS COMPARED TO WHAT IT WAS LIKE WHEN YOU RACED GO-KARTS HERE?
"From what I've seen back then, honestly it wasn't that long ago, it hasn't changed a whole lot. But I think what they've done is fan-friendly, which is great for the fans. It's extremely fan-friendly. It's going to be a challenge some times for the teams. If you teammate is on one side of the garage and you're on the other, I think it's like a one-mile walk to get there. There's really no access there. At times it's going to be tough for the drivers and teams to focus with the fans right there staring at them. But it's understandable. But this sport is built on entertainment. I understand why they did it. I think it's great. The fans are going to love it. That's what the sport is about. It's about the fans. If it weren't for them, the sponsors wouldn't be here and we wouldn't be here racing with what we have. I think that's great. And the new victory lane is going to be great. I think it was needed as well. This is NASCAR's premier track. This is their Superbowl, the Daytona 500, and this facility should be their nicest facility.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS FOR THE '05 SEASON?
"We've got a lot of new people on the team this season. I'm excited about all of them. I've got Lance (McGrew, crew chief) back, who was with me when we won the Busch championship. He and I communicate really well. There are three other guys from that Busch team that are going to be on the team as well along with some other new people from different teams and different places. We've still got some guys from last year. But the biggest thing I'm excited about is the improvements at Hendrick Motorsports as far as the steps to take the No. 25 and the No. 5 (Kyle Busch) to the same level as the No. 24 and No. 48 are. The No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) and No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) have been in the past on different formats than the other teams. They're in the same building. The cars are built the same. The bodies are built the same and they have access to all that information. The No. 25 and the No. 5 haven't been in that position. Our stuff is actually a good bit different. And I think it's hurt us some. But now, with this new format - Brian Whitesell is coming over from the No. 24 and the No. 48 - and that's going to shrink the communication gap between all four teams with that move. He's extremely smart. It's going to be better for all of Hendrick Motorsports in general."
COMPARE YOUR ROOKIE YEAR WITH HOW IT FEELS GOING INTO '05
"It's completely different this year. You learn so much after a year. I think that goes for any series whether it's go-karts or the NEXTEL Cup level. Last year, there were a lot of unknowns. I thought it wouldn't be that much different than the Busch Series. You think you've done this before and been to most of the tracks and it wouldn't be any big deal. But there were a lot of differences. But there were a lot of things that you had to adapt to and change. Your schedule and your time management skills and your public relations skills and how you deal with the fans and sponsors and everybody because the demand in every area goes up. I don't think one particular area that gets added to the Busch Series. It's not like the difference between Busch and Cup is this. The difference between Busch and Cup is everything. Everything that's there in the Busch Series is there - there's just a lot more of it. And it's hard to anticipate how much it's gong to be. But after a year, I've approached this year in so many different ways on how I do my schedule and how I spend my off-season and where I take advantage of time to be with my family and be with my friends and then be at work and at the shop. I already don't feel as tired going into Daytona as I did last year. Last year I felt wore out already because I wasn't as prepared for certain things coming up, but now I am. I think that's going to be a big help along with the team and all those changes. I'm really excited and looking forward to 2005 after having one year under my belt."
ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH KYLE BUSCH
"I have talked to him some and I'll be there for him with any question he has and try to help him the best I can because it's only going to help us all. I had Jeff (Gordon) talking to me a lot going into last season. We've become really good friends. He's helped me in so many different ways and given me so much good advice. But it doesn't matter. Even when Jeff Gordon is telling you what to expect you just can't prepare yourself for it until you go through it. It definitely helps, and that's what I'm going to try to help Kyle as much as I can to try to have a heads up. But even when somebody tries to tell you not to touch a hot stove, but until you touch it it's just not the same."
ON THE RULES CHANGES
"I haven't done a lot of so-called research in that area. I don't know the details of all the new rules. I know the gist of it from what I've heard.
"I think taking the Happy Hour out - as long as we've had enough practice beforehand - is going to be good in a lot of places. There are going to be places where I think we should always qualify. Daytona is one of them. Indianapolis is one of them. And there's the way that we qualify for the All-Star race. There are certain places along the route where I think we should keep that format and go all out and have qualifying practice and qualifying and have all that stuff and then do race stuff. But I think at a lot of weekends it's going to be a big help for the drivers and teams in general because the schedule is so intense now. We have the longest season of any sport and within that season it's extremely intense. We're at a race track for not just one day, but four days. We're gone every weekend. So that's going to cut out a little time and work for the guys, which is always an improvement. And it's going to save the teams some money as well."
ON THE ADVANTAGES OF TESTING
"We have tested pretty much most of the tracks I haven't been at. Really the only ones were Pocono, Indy, and the road courses. We tested most of them. I think having multiple practices really didn't hurt. The more time you're on the race track and out there turning laps, the more you're learning. So yeah, I think that definitely helped. But at the same time you had to focus on qualifying. You had to find a good qualifying set-up and then you had to find a good race set-up. Now, for a rookie going in, all they have to worry about is making it good for the race. Make it good for long runs and go out there and do the best you can for one lap and go as fast as you can. There are advantages on both sides. I had a little bit more time on a race track going into a race last year but it wasn't necessarily a lot more time because it was usually it was like one or two laps at a time which is difficult to do as a rookie. You go to a track you haven't been to and you don't have much time on there and the first thing you do when you get to the race track is they tell you to go out there on a banzai run and they want it hung out sideways all you can get for one lap and you hardly even know the race track. And then you come back in. And then you have to do it again for another lap."
ON KASEY KAHNE
"I think when you're not winning -- as an athlete or a very competitive person - you're going to have a problem with it in general."
I don't think there's one particular person beating me that I had a problem with. In the Busch season the year before, I had a great team with great communication and great people on the team and great support from the Cup level and we ended up winning the championship. I didn't look at Kasey as any better or worse driver than I do now. They didn't have a very good year that year. But then when we went to Cup, he got on a team that won like three or four out of the last five races in the 2003 season and was on track to just dominate with great cars. Ray (Evernham) is obviously very smart and he really had that team at the top of its game when Kasey got in there. At the same time, Kasey did a great job driving. I've always respected Kasey and we've always gotten along great. He's done a good job. On the other hand, the situation I stepped into wasn't the same. It has taken time to build that communication. Looking back at the last year, it wasn't necessarily any particular person or that team in general, we just didn't have that communication. Maybe Peter (Sospenso) going over to Terry (Labonte), maybe they'll have the communication that Lance and I have. Maybe they'll do great and I hope they will and I believe they will, but we didn't have that. And that really hurt us. So you've got to keep that in mind throughout the season. And I kept it in mind and I had plenty of people tell me that. It wasn't like I went out there every week to see where Kasey was running. I could care less. If we're not winning a race, it doesn't really matter who is ahead of me. At the end of the year and at the end of the day, you've got to put it into perspective and it was two totally different situations."