Chicagoland: Brian Vickers race report

Vickers Finishes Third in the Dollar General 300 Under the Lights of Chicagoland Speedway Joliet, Ill. (July 13, 2009) -- The NASCAR Nationwide Series returned to Chicagoland Speedway this weekend for the second annual race run under the Joliet...

Vickers Finishes Third in the Dollar General 300 Under the Lights of Chicagoland Speedway

Joliet, Ill. (July 13, 2009) -- The NASCAR Nationwide Series returned to Chicagoland Speedway this weekend for the second annual race run under the Joliet night sky. Brian Vickers started the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota in the second position after only narrowly missing the pole position by three one-thousandths of a second. As the sun dipped behind the grandstands, Vickers strapped into his Toyota Camry and focused on grabbing that top spot and being there at the conclusion of the Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca-Cola. Vickers remained in the top-3 throughout most of the 150-lap event and finished in third place, marking his fourth top-five finish for the season.

As the race began, drivers were not exactly sure what handling to expect of their cars as the sun set on the warm and humid Joliet evening. Vickers reported in the early laps to crew chief, Trent Owens, that he was, "loose all the way through." Despite the handling change from earlier in the day, Vickers remained incredibly fast, at times logging laps faster than the leader.

He held strong in the second position as the race remained under green-flag conditions. As the long run progressed, Vickers reported that the car was much better but it had just taken too long to get there. As leaders began to pit under the green flag, Vickers remained out to lead for two laps. On lap 52, he brought the Camry to pit road where the Dollar General crew effortlessly serviced the No. 32 with four fresh tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. As the pit stop cycled through, Vickers returned to the second position. He reported to Owens that the adjustment had definitely helped the handling and that although the car had again started out loose on the fresh tires, it was a lot better than the first run.

The first caution of the night came at lap 92 for debris on the racetrack. Vickers came to pit road for four tires and fuel. He returned to the track for the restart in the third position. Because of NASCAR's newly implemented double-file restart rule, Vickers pulled behind the leader for the restart. As the race resumed, the No. 18 and No. 32, running first and second, pulled away from the pack with a large lead. On lap 106, Vickers reported that he was experiencing a bad vibration, especially in the corners. The team quickly confirmed that no wheel weights had fallen off during the last pit stop. Vickers continued to drive hard through this new challenge and only fell to the third spot.

As leaders began making their second round of green-flag stops, Vickers came to pit road on lap 154 for four new tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. As the stops cycled through, Vickers returned to the third position and happily reported that the vibration was gone. Vickers set out to catch the No. 18 and No. 20; however, moving through lapped traffic at times was challenging, at one point being caught behind two lap-down cars battling for the Lucky Dog position.

On lap 184, the caution was displayed again for debris. To pit or not to pit became the question between Owens and Vickers. Both agreed that he would do what the lead cars opted to do and on lap 186, Vickers followed the No. 18 down pit road. The No. 20 and Vickers' Braun Racing teammate, Jason Leffler in the No. 38, were the two cars that opted to stay out. The Dollar General crew quickly put on two tires and added just a splash of gas. Vickers returned to the track in the fourth position for the restart.

The race resumed with only nine laps remaining. As the flag dropped, the No. 60 made a dive to the outside to attempt to pass Vickers. Vickers readily held him off and focused on moving to the front in the closing laps. The time battling the No. 60 was costly and the No. 20 and No. 18 quickly pulled away. His two fresh tires allowed for him to quickly pass the No. 38, who was on older tires. Gaining ground with every lap, Vickers simply ran out of time to challenge the No. 18 and No. 20. Vickers took the checkered flag in the 3rd position, tying his best finish of the season and marking his fourth top-five finish.

"The team did a really good job with this Dollar General Toyota today," said Vickers. "We unloaded great and almost had the pole. Three one-thousandths! I think I'd rather lose it by two tenths than to be that close and not win the pole. We had a great car out there tonight; sometimes I know it was the best on the track. I really appreciate all the work and effort these guys put into these cars week in and week out."

Reed Sorenson will make his Braun Racing debut in the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota next weekend at Gateway International Raceway.

Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Gateway International Raceway next weekend for the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 presented by Ventrilo. The Saturday night race will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN2 and on MRN Radio starting at 9:00 p.m. EST. The green flag is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. EST.

-credit: br

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Drivers Jason Leffler , Trent Owens , Brian Vickers , Reed Sorenson