Hendrick Motorsports' gamble paying off DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 4, 2003) -- Faced with having to sign a new driver for the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series season, car owner Ricky Hendrick gambled on the youthful Brian Vickers (No. 5 ...
Hendrick Motorsports' gamble paying off
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 4, 2003) -- Faced with having to sign a new driver for the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series season, car owner Ricky Hendrick gambled on the youthful Brian Vickers (No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet) to fill the void.
And it's definitely paying off.
Vickers, the 19-year-old racing prodigy, has far exceeded expectations. Vickers jumped to seventh in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings following a fifth-place finish at Dover last weekend, his third top-five finish in the last four races.
"I knew coming into this season they could get the job done as a team and that good things were going to happen," Hendrick said. "But I didn't expect it to happen this soon."
After competing in just a part-time schedule and finishing 30th in the championship point standings in 2002, the timing is also a surprise for Vickers.
"I'm excited about the results we've had," Vickers said. "I think it's a gamble any time you hire a driver who is young and doesn't have a lot of experience. So far we've done pretty good and we've been able to come together as a team a little sooner than I thought, but that's not to say I didn't expect this. Maybe the time frame was just a little different."
And perhaps the timing could not be better for Vickers to get his first NASCAR Busch Series victory in Saturday night's Trace Adkins Chrome 300. Nashville Superspeedway has a propensity for crowning first-time winners in its short history. Three of the four winners at Nashville -- Greg Biffle in 2001, Scott Riggs and Jack Sprague in 2002 -- earned their career-first wins at the 1.33-mile track.
Vickers has been ever-so-close this season. At Nashville in April, Vickers led 30 laps late in the race and was pulling away from the field when his team made their final pit stop.
"We pitted under green and then got caught by the yellow flag," recalled Vickers. "I knew we had a car capable of winning and things were winding down toward the end, but the last part of the race didn't end like I thought it would or hoped it would."
Vickers ninth-place finish at Nashville propelled him into the top 10 in the series point standings for the first time in his career. It also began a streak of finishes inside the top 20 which has produced four top-10 finishes in the last seven races.
"We just have to improve upon what we did earlier (at Nashville) and not worry too much about winning," Vickers said. "If we can do that, we'll be in good shape."