Vickers Races For a Cause and Brings Home a Fourth-Place Finish in the Dollar General 300 CONCORD, N.C. (October 19, 2009) -- It was a slightly different look this weekend for Brian Vickers and the Dollar General team at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Vickers Races For a Cause and Brings Home a Fourth-Place Finish in the Dollar General 300
CONCORD, N.C. (October 19, 2009) -- It was a slightly different look this weekend for Brian Vickers and the Dollar General team at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Trading in the traditional black and yellow, the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota sported a special pink paint scheme to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Despite front end damage sustained early in the race, the Dollar General Toyota remained a force to be reckoned with as Vickers drove to a fourth-place finish under the lights of the Concord, N.C speedway.
Vickers lined up in the ninth position to take the green flag for Friday night's Dollar General 300. The No. 32 immediately climbed forward, taking over the seventh position by lap 10. Vickers reported to crew chief, Trent Owens, that his car had started that run with a loose condition; however, the handling was starting to improve. During the night's first caution on lap 12, Vickers confirmed that the handling was tightening up, but that he was changing his line on the track to see how the car reacted. Vickers maintained his seventh-place position when the race resumed.
On lap 35, Vickers told his team, "The car feels good. If we can stay in clean air and get good track position, we'll be really good tonight!"
By lap 52, he moved the No. 32 Camry into the top-five, reporting that the car was starting to develop a tight condition off of the corners. He continued to adjust his line around the race track as spotter, Chris Lambert, told him where the leaders were running and gaining speed. Vickers found that the car's handling was improved when he ran the high line.
As the leaders began to make green-flag pit stops, Vickers moved up to the second position. On lap 59, Owens called Vickers to pit road for service. The Dollar General team quickly changed four tires, packed the car with fuel and made an air pressure adjustment. Before the remainder of the field could pit, the second caution of the night came out on lap 63, trapping Vickers in the 10th spot. When the race restarted on lap 68, the No. 32 Toyota had lapped-traffic to contend with as Vickers set off to move back to the front.
On lap 69, a multi-car wreck in turn two brought out the next caution flag. Vickers reported that the Dollar General Toyota had sustained front end damage during the melee. As he circled the track, he listed the damage from what he could see from the driver's seat. "The tires are still up but the hood is pushed back. The bolt on the right is broken, too." The crew prepared to repair the damaged car as Vickers brought it down pit road on lap 70. The No. 32 made a series of three pit stops to work on the car while NASCAR crews cleaned up the debris on the race track. On the third stop, the team changed four tires and packed the car with fuel.
"We'll see what we have," said Owens. "The car is definitely damaged. The last six laps before the wreck we were the fastest car on the track."
Vickers replied confidently, "I still think we have a good car here. It's just going to be all about track position for the rest of the race."
When the race resumed on lap 77, Vickers went to work, restarting from the 19th position. Running three-wide on the first lap, Vickers had moved the car up two positions when the caution came out again on lap 81. He reported that the car was still good. Owens called him to pit road on lap 82 for fuel-only. The crew checked the taped hood, making sure that the repaired front-end was still in good shape. Vickers restarted in the 17th spot.
Systematically picking off positions, one by one, Vickers moved into the top-10 on lap 93. By lap 104, he had advanced into the sixth position. There was no doubt that the car, despite the damage, remained incredibly fast. On lap 126, the No. 32 took over the fifth spot and was the fastest car on the track by nearly two-tenths of a second.
As Owens watched his driver move into the fourth position on lap 127, he was also keeping a close eye on the radar screen as rain loomed just west of the race track. As the leaders began to make green-flag pit stops, Vickers moved up to the third position on lap 130. On lap 134, the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota took over the lead. Hoping to catch a caution flag, Vickers remained on the track and in the lead until lap 141, when he brought the car to pit road for service.
"The car is perfect right now," Vickers reported to Owens. "It just took too long to get here. We're too loose for too long. Other than that, this car is great!"
The Dollar General crew changed four tires, added fuel and made air pressure and track bar adjustments to combat the car's loose condition early in the run. As the field cycled through the green-flag stops, Vickers had moved back up to the third position when the caution came out again on lap 148. During the yellow-flag, Vickers told Owens that the car's handling was still loose, but that it was comfortable and he could carry a lot of speed through the corners. The race resumed on lap 153.
As the No. 32 slipped back to the fifth position, Vickers reported that the car's condition was just too loose to run on the top of the track. When the final caution of the night came with 25 laps remaining in the race, Owens told his crew to get ready for a two-tire pit stop. On lap 176 he called Vickers to pit road. The team quickly changed the two right-side tires, with the new tires containing an air pressure adjustment. Vickers restarted from the eighth position.
In the closing laps, Vickers charged the No. 32 Camry through the field. He took the checkered flag for the Dollar General 300 in the fourth position, claiming his seventh top-five and 11th top-10 finish of the season.
"We had a really good car tonight," said Vickers. "The Dollar General Toyota started out strong and then we got caught up in that big crash. I'm not sure what happened because it was so far ahead of us, but everyone got jammed up and we had a lot of damage. The Dollar General crew did a great job at making the most out of the race car. We were really fast, but lost some speed through the corners and down the straight away with the hood damage. I'm proud of this team for their hard work tonight and we were still able to walk away with a top-five finish. Also, we raised some awareness for the Susan. G. Komen for the Cure tonight with our pink car. It is definitely a good cause and worth wearing pink for!"
Brian Ickler will return to the wheel of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota next weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park, making his second appearance of the season and third career Nationwide Series start.
Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series travels to Memphis, Tennessee this weekend for the Kroger on Track for the Cure 250 at Memphis Motorsports Park.