Talladega II: Winning team interview, part 1

BRIAN VICKERS, AND CREW CHIEF, LANCE MCGREWM/b>, NO. 25 GMAC MONTE CARLO SS - WINNER Q: ON THE RACE TODAY AND HIS FIRST CAREER VICTORY VICKERS: "It is pretty exciting. I'll go ahead and answer the question for you that yes; it is mixed...

BRIAN VICKERS, AND CREW CHIEF, LANCE MCGREWM/b>, NO. 25 GMAC MONTE CARLO SS - WINNER

Q: ON THE RACE TODAY AND HIS FIRST CAREER VICTORY

VICKERS: "It is pretty exciting. I'll go ahead and answer the question for you that yes; it is mixed emotions. But it is neat to be in victory lane. I can't say enough for Hendrick's speedway department and the engine department as well. We had a strong car all day. We came here and did the tire test. I feel like we helped Goodyear bring a great tire to the race track, but it also helped us as well and we definitely changed our set up a little bit from what we normally run. It helped. We ran up front all day with the exception of one time I tried that going to the back thing, and riding, and waiting for the wreck. I got so bored, I couldn't do it. Me and Lance talked about it on the radio and we said hey, let's have some fun. Let's go to the front. If we get in a wreck, we get in a wreck. That's what we did and we stayed up there for the rest of the race there at the end.

"On the last lap, Jimmie (Johnson) and I were both waiting. It wasn't like we were talking over the radio. Jimmie and I feel like we've always had the same idea about who we're racing and when to make a move and when not to. And I pretty much knew what he was going to do was to wait to the last lap, which was the time to do it. Any time before that, he would have been hung out or he would have gotten to the lead and somebody else would have passed him. We waited until the last lap and had a great run down the front stretch. We came off of Turn 2 and I was bump-drafting him and that was the only way we were going to pass Junior. There's only one way to pass and that's to draft and to bump-draft especially passing Junior - such a strong car. And we went down the back stretch, he pulled out to pass and when he pulled out, Junior went to block and he kind of went down again and by the time I got to him, he lost his momentum and I got into him. I hate it. The last thing I wanted to do was get into Jimmie and wreck either one of those guys. But what happened, happened. It wasn't intentional. It's definitely going to be mixed emotions for me being my first win, but also with what happened with Jimmie and how he is my friend and being a teammate as well.

"But, what's done is done. And now we've just got to enjoy our victory. I'm so proud of this GMAC crew. These guys did a great job all day. Lance did an awesome job on the pitbox making good calls on when to get tires and fuel and when not to. And we stayed out front all day. And it was a good race for us. Obviously, it means a lot to me personally to get this GMAC No. 25 car back in victory lane. This was Ricky and Papa Joe's car and I was very close to those guys and it means a lot to me personally to get this car in victory lane before I leave."

Q: ON CALLING BRIAN VICKERS' FIRST CAREER WIN

MCGREW: "I think he did an awesome job. We ran up front all day long. The car was really strong. The guys had awesome pit stops. This race unfolded so much different than it usually does. It's usually a track position game. You get shuffled. You get back in the front. Today, the tire was so good, we didn't have to get tires. We wound up getting four tires a little bit earlier knowing we were just going to get fuel only in the end and it helped. It worked out for us."

Q: JUNIOR SEEMED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING ON, ON THE BACKSTRETCH WITH YOU AND JIMMIE, BUT JIMMIE SEEMED A BIT UPSET. DO YOU THINK JIMMIE WILL UNDERSTAND LATER THAT YOU WEREN'T TRYING TO BUMP SOMEBODY OUT OF THE WAY TO WIN A RACE?

VICKERS: "Yes, I didn't hear Jimmie's comments and I wouldn't have to hear them. I would expect him to be a little upset. He is my friend. He is my teammate. He is running for a championship. I hate that I got into the back of him. He could say he wished he wouldn't have been bumping me and so on, but he's not going to because he knows just as well as I do, that if I wouldn't have been bump-drafting, he would have never even had a shot to pass Junior. It is what it is. This is Talladega. This is speedway racing. If I would have not touched him and laid off of him, we would have finished one-two-three, Junior, Jimmie and me. It is what it is. I saw Junior's comments. I appreciate that he understands. He's been in this position before. He knows that's not my driving style. I've been racing with these guys now for three years now. I feel like most of them respect me and I respect them. Once you race somebody long enough, you know what their driving style is. And I don't feel like I have a reputation for wrecking people intentionally or driving too aggressively, just like Junior said. But I'm not going to deny that I got in the back of him. I hate it and it wasn't intentional. I was trying to push Jimmie to a win. If I wanted to win the race, I would have gone right and tried to pass both of them on the outside. I wouldn't have been trying to push Jimmie past Junior if I really wanted to try to get a victory. Which I did, but if I had of made that move to make it three wide on the outside, I would have ended up third. They had the momentum. Junior had a really strong car. It wouldn't have done me any good. Hopefully he'll understand when the time is right and I'll understand."

Q: WAS IT YOUR THINKING THAT YOU COULD HELP YOUR TEAMMATE?

VICKERS: "It was team motivation and self-motivation. When you're sitting in third at Talladega on the last lap, the chances of that guy passing both of those cars by himself - and I nobody behind me, we three had left the rest of the pack - those chances of me passing both those guys by myself were slim and none. Anybody who understands speedway racing knows that. My choice was when Jimmie pulled out, I could go with him or I could go with Junior. I get along fine with both of those guys, but I'm going to go with my teammate. I was going to try to push him to a win and get a good, solid second and help us both in the points and it would be a great day all around. If I had a chance to pass Jimmie after we passed Junior coming off of Turn 4, I would have taken it. If I'm not mistaken, it was him that passed me for the win here when we finished third in the first Talladega race. He was the one who pulled out past us. I'm sure he wouldn't expect anything different. But this is how it happened. We can't go back and change that. I'm going to go ahead and try to enjoy this victory with mixed emotions and hope that Jimmie understands that."

Q: IF YOU WEREN'T LEAVING HMS AT THE END OF THIS YEAR, WOULD YOU HAVE HANDLED THINGS DIFFERENTLY?

VICKERS: "Great question. Absolutely not. It wouldn't have changed anything. Me pushing Jimmie had to do with the fact that he wanted to get by Junior and I promise you it wasn't going to happen unless I was pushing him. I can promise you he was not going to pull out and pass that No. 8 car by himself. That was my choice. I was going to try to push Jimmie by him. We're teammates and we're going to try to finish one-two for Hendrick Motorsports and that was going to be it. What happened was an accident. I guess if you want to look at it that way, you'd say that I would have left Jimmie and went with Junior. And that's not the case. Jimmie is my friend and my teammate and I was going to try to push him to a win."

Q: HOW MUCH DID THE NEW ASPHALT CHANGE THE GROOVES OR LINES THAT YOU USUALLY RUN HERE?

VICKERS: "It was really smooth all day and you could pretty much run wherever you want. For the majority of the day, most people were trying to protect the middle. The bottom was just as fast, if not faster, if people would go down there and commit to it because you've got the same grip and you're traveling less distance. It only makes sense. For most of the race, it seemed like people favored the high side and you had guys running the top and running the middle. It wasn't because they wanted to travel more distance, it was because they were trying to protect that middle, which is nowadays the sacred place in superspeedway racing. If you can squeeze your way in the middle, you're going to go by both those cars on either side of you. Guaranteed. It's just the place to be. There was one time there, mid-race, when we kind of got shuffled to the back. There was the No. 26, and me, and Jimmie, and a couple other cars committed to the bottom after nobody could make it work and we all committed to go to the bottom and we went straight to the front. The four of us took the lead and stayed on the bottom. We ran like that until the pit stop. We proved that the bottom is just as fast. It's just a matter of what groove the drivers want to make fast."

Q: IS THAT DIFFERENT THAN OTHER YEARS HERE?

VICKERS: "Yes and no. I think here more so than Daytona. Old pavement didn't matter quite as much. The top and bottom were both fast. Sometimes with older pavement, especially at Daytona, you'll see guys run the top because you have to start lifting and scrub speed to try to hold the car on the bottom. Even though they say we run wide open, on old tires you can at Daytona and you couldn't here. Barely. So you would go high to try to keep that momentum and to try to keep without lifting. There was a reason for running high - more so than there is now."

Q: WHAT DOES THIS VICTORY MEAN FOR YOU ON A PERSONAL LEVEL?

VICKERS: "It means all the world. It means a lot to me personally just to get my first Cup victory and to get the No. 25 car back in victory lane for Ricky and Pop and to get a win at Hendrick Motorsports before I leave."

Q: ARE THEIR CHALLENGES IN MENDING FENCES AT HMS? CHAD KNAUS SAID HE DIDN'T THINK YOU HAVE THE TALENT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU HAVE UNDERNEATH YOU

VICKERS: "I'm sure the No. 48 crew is going to be frustrated. And I'm sure Chad is upset. He's upset about what happened. But everybody has made mistakes. Jimmie and Junior both, have accidentally caused wrecks at superspeedway races. I don't think I'm stretching too far by making that comment. I accidentally got into Jimmie and wrecked. I hate it that it was Jimmie and I hate that it was Junior. I'm sure those guys are going to be upset. But after they calm down and realize and understand what happened, that it was an accident and they watch the replay, they'll understand. If I would have pushed Jimmie no different than I pushed him, and I would have pushed him by the No. 8 car, Chad probably would have said I was the greatest driver out there and thank you so much and I love you man and you're a great teammate. The whole world would be different even though I was still pushing Jimmie."

Q: IF YOU COULD SOMEHOW PUT YOURSELF IN JIMMIE'S PLACE OR JUNIOR'S PLACE, DO YOU HAVE ANY WAY OF KNOWING HOW YOU WOULD FEEL ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED?

VICKERS: "I think my comments would have been very similar to Dale Junior's after the race. If the situation was reversed, I know that Jimmie nor Junior are considered reckless or dangerous drivers. Yeah, they've made their mistakes and caused wrecks in superspeedway races. And they are not known for wrecking guys. I would have known that it wasn't intentional. Yeah, I would have been frustrated and upset. I just got a win taken away from me. Who wouldn't have been upset? Any driver would have been upset and frustrated. But like Junior said after the race, he called a spade a spade. He said it is what it is and I hate it."

Continued in part 2

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Series NASCAR Cup
Teams Hendrick Motorsports