Talladega II: Winning team interview, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: IN VICTORY LANE, WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THE REACTION OF THE FANS? VICKERS: "No. We all know there is a heavily populated Junior base here in Talladega. The fact that he was leading the race on the last lap and he didn't...

Continued from part 1

Q: IN VICTORY LANE, WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THE REACTION OF THE FANS?

VICKERS: "No. We all know there is a heavily populated Junior base here in Talladega. The fact that he was leading the race on the last lap and he didn't win the race, they're going to be made at whomever won. I remember when Jeff Gordon won here and he didn't even do anything to Junior, but they all booed him and threw beer cans at him when he won. I definitely expected it coming at me."

Q: IT SEEMED THAT IT WAS THREE-WIDE MOST OF THE DAY. WAS THAT MORE NERVE-WRACKING THAN NORMAL?

VICKERS: "No, I felt like it was actually less. They did such a good job paving this race track. It was so smooth out there. It was really pretty easy to run three wide. It wasn't that complicated to run four-wide at times. In the past, with old pavement or at Daytona, you're really sliding around a lot. You're really having to drive the car just to keep it off of guys. A lot of wrecks are caused by people coming off the turns or going in and getting loose; or either coming off the turn and getting tight, which happens a lot with older pavement. If the banking falls away you start to push and you get tight and you accidentally get into a guy. Today we didn't have that problem at all. It was pretty easy to run three wide and that's why everybody was favoring that middle so much."

Q: ARE YOU GETTING A LITTLE TIRED OF HAVING TO APOLOGIZE FOR WINNING THIS RACE?

VICKERS: "Yeah, I guess I am. You're right. It's our first victory. I've definitely got mixed emotions. I love the fact that we won. It's awesome. I'm going to take the trophy home. It is what it is. We got to celebrate, Lance and I in victory lane, and it was great. He got me mostly. My eyes are still burning. But it is frustrating the way it happened. But that doesn't mean I'm going to jump up here and stand on the table and say I'm happy with the way it happened. But I am happy we won."

: ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TEAMMATES SUPPORT OF FIRST CAREER NNCS WIN BY VISITING VICTORY LANE:

VICKERS: "I appreciate your question. Every driver that came by on the victory lap, a couple gave a donut, gave me a thumbs up, waved me an awesome gesture and complimented me and the team and congratulated. The only negative comments we have got have come from the No. 48 team, but everybody else has been very complimentary and congratulatory about the victory and it has been kind of nice and supportive."

Q: ON BUMP DRAFTING OUT THERE TODAY:

VICKERS: "Just before that one big crash it got pretty aggressive up there. I was on the inside lane, we were all two-wide at that time. There were a couple cars in the outside lane that were getting pretty aggressive. They were basically bouncing off of one another a couple times, swerved back and forth a little that caused the big crash. That was probably a little too aggressive. Other than that, I thought it was pretty calm, to be honest with you. As good as the track felt and as hard as it was to pass, I am surprised people weren't more aggressive on the bump drafting. Yes, there were some guys that were hitting harder than others, which is typical. For the most part of the race, I tried to stay off my front bumper as much as I could, used it only when I had to because we don't have the bumpers we used to have. I tried to take care of the grill and the engine and all that good stuff, but maybe Jeff got hit harder by a couple of guys than they hit me, I don't know. I can't directly relate to his comments, but I didn't think it was too out of control, I have definitely seen a lot worse."

Q: ON HOW SPECIAL THIS WIN IS FOR HIM AND NO. 25 TEAM:

MCGREW: "It is awesome, but like Brian keeps reiterating, it is bittersweet. The team didn't get a chance to jump off pit wall and run down pit road, hug and kiss and everything else. We didn't know what was going on, we didn't know who won, we didn't know what happened, we didn't know. It was minutes after the race, there was no media in the pit area, no congratulations, good job, nothing. I didn't do any post race interviews until TV a little while ago from victory lane, then in here, It is definitely bittersweet. It is a shame that controversy overshadows things, when you have a good day. Brian is absolutely right, I think our tire test did nothing but help Hendrick Motorsports and what we brought to the table when we came down here. And now, nobody is going to care but, to me this is my first Cup win, this is Brian's first Cup win. Everybody knows how near and dear Ricky Hendrick and Pop Hendrick were to our hearts and how important this race team was to them. Like I have said time and time again over the last few weeks, the most important part is to ensure that someone from Hendrick Motorsports does win the championship and we get a win in the No. 25, hopefully, we can do both."

Q: ON BRIAN LEAVING THE END OF THE SEASON:

MCGREW: "It is tough, Brian and I have a long relationship going back to the Busch Series. He and I were fortunate enough to win the Championship there. Week in and week out, he is the guy I am waiting to hear from when I am on the top of the pit box radio, so it is going to be an adjustment. Everybody does things for different reasons, the No. 25 team is going to go on and hopefully Brian is going to go on and be successful in his next venture. It goes on and on. People talk about how important chemistry is to a successful team and I am telling you what, a long time ago, I didn't used to believe it. I have been doing this since '93 and when I walked in the door, I didn't believe it, I just thought you put talented people together and you get results and that is not true. It has taken me a long time to figure that out, I have learned a lot more about that in the last five years than anything else, I guarantee it. I will trade every engineering class I ever had for a psychology degree."

Q: ON CONVERSATION WITH RICK HENDRICK IN VICTORY LANE:

VICKERS: "We, really didn't get in to that. Rick and I have a special relationship and for a long time, he has been like a father to me and Ricky was like a brother in a lot of ways. We had our thing, we had our moment. He said congratulations, we talked about a few other things, which I am going to leave between him and I...but it was all positive. None of it dealt with what happened or how it happened, or what is going to happen in the future. We are still on good terms and we still have a good relationship and I will always have a lot of respect for Rick and this organization. I will always view him as another father. He isn't going to replace the parents I have, I have great, loving parents who support me all the time and all the way. I couldn't be here without them, but along the way you have a lot of people who have a lot of roles in your life as friends. Your family being the number one role. Then you have people who come along in your life that you learn a lot from, that kind of take you under their wing in other ways. He was one of those people who other than my family, that isn't going to change. Relationships go up and down through life and we will always have our special thing, and that isn't going to change any."

Q: ON FUTURE OF RELATIONSHIP WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON, IS TODAY'S APPARANT RIFT REPAIRABLE:

VICKERS: "I think it is. We are both grown, mature adults. We have been friends a long time, we are friends for a reason. Not because of what happens here, we are friends elsewhere. When we get on the race track, we are teammates, not friends. We come here to compete, to beat each other. Casey (Mears), me, Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff (Gordon) are just as close with him (Casey) not being at Hendrick Motorsports. Now with him coming the Hendrick Motorsports and me not being there, I don't think it is going to change that relationship any. Do I think Jimmie is upset about today. Yes, of course he is. Do I think we can fix that? Absolutely. Jimmie is a great person, he is a very mature man and I am sure when the time is right, we will have our opportunity to work things out. As I said earlier, relationships are always tested and they go up and down, I don't think anybody in this room can sit here and say they have a friend they haven't been upset with their entire life. But that is going to happen, it is just resolving those problems, working through things as adults and moving on and enjoying the good times."

Q: ON CHAD KNAUS' POST RACE COMMENTS:

VICKERS: "It is unfortunate some of Chad's comments. I hate he said what he said, but I don't think he is going to let it be a problem. Other than that, it is really his choice but I don't foresee him letting this grow in to a problem. I don't see Jimmie letting it grow in to a problem. That is their call.

MCGREW: (interjects): "For the record, Chad was the first one to shake my hand after the race. As he was walking by the pit box, I was coming down the ladder, he walked over, shook my hand, I shrugged, he shrugged back and away he goes. That was it."

Q: ON WHAT WERE HE WAS THINKING AS YOU LOOKED IN THE MIRROR AND SAW JIMMIE AND DALE BEHIND HIM:

VICKERS: "I guess, right when it happened, it was oh, whoops. Then after the dust settled, we went on, the caution came out and we guessed we won the race but we really didn't know. We really didn't know if we won or not. I didn't know if I should start screaming on the radio and hollering and ranting and raving. You know, go sliding through the infields and do donuts or not, nobody said anything to us. We assumed we won the race, I was leading when the caution came out, but you never know. There are a lot of tough decisions by NASCAR in an event like this under that kind of circumstance. But it was definitely, a lot more confusion than anything in the moment. Now it is obviously has kind of come together."

Q: ON MAKING A MOVE TO WIN EVEN IF JIMMIE WASN'T GOING TO MAKE A MOVE:

VICKERS: "Well, if Jimmie wasn't going to make a move, then I was going to try to make one myself. It is all about timing and that is one thing I have learned over the years. I have tried to make that move too soon, and it has really hurt me a lot and then you fall back to 10th or 15th. If you make it too late, then you miss an opportunity to win. That is a tough call, it is really a manner of timing issue. It was a manner of circumstances. If the No. 9 or the No. 28 or the No. 2 or whoever it was behind him (No. 9) were right up under my bumper and there was three car lengths between me and Jimmie, and they started pushing me and I had a head of steam. I couldn't let go; then I would have pulled out to pass if it was in the last two laps. If it was five to go, I would have lifted, got on the brakes and stayed in line because with five to go, they would have just left me hanging out to dry, With one to go, I would have made a move. By the time we got to the last lap, coming down the front stretch, the No. 9, I don't know how it happened, but sometimes you just hit that bump draft just right, and me and Jimmie took off. I think you saw it when me and Junior were leading the race, he pushed me 15 car lengths, out in front of the field. If you can get up behind a guy and stay on a guy and stay on his bumper, if you can just kind of ease up to him and lay on him without hitting where you push him away from you, two cars can just absolutely fly. I mean they can pull away from the field, they can pull away from a draft, they can do anything. Jimmie and I had that on the last lap and I just left the No. 9 so there was nobody to help me make a move. At that point, it was pretty much helping Jimmie make a move. If I had pulled out to make a pass, it would not have done me any good at all. I would have finished fourth or fifth or worse. That is why I was pushing JImmie."

Q: ON ANY COMMENTS FROM NASCAR AFTER THE RACE TO TEAM REGARDING LAST LAP INCIDENT:

VICKERS: "No, NASCAR hasn't said anything and there really wasn't a concern. You know, just from past history, not just NASCAR but racing in general, tyiu haven't won until they say you have won. You know know what may come out, they may decide to put you back on the track and do a green white checkered, I don't know, so I wasn't going to celebrate until it was over. I know from where I was sitting that it was obvious that is wasn't intentional and I felt like NASCAR was going to see the same thing. They have called a lot of races, they know what is intentional, what is not intentional. I felt confident in the fact that they know I wasn't going to try and wreck Jimmie or Junior, especially not at Talladega, especially being my teammate. It was an accident, it is what it is and that is how they called it."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Ricky Hendrick
Teams Hendrick Motorsports