Darlington: Brian Vickers race report

TOP-10 FINISH FOR VICKERS UNDER THE LIGHTS AT DARLINGTON DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 11, 2009) -- With heavy rains washing away Nationwide Series qualifying, the starting line-up was set by owner's points for Friday night's Diamond Hill Plywood 200...


DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 11, 2009) -- With heavy rains washing away Nationwide Series qualifying, the starting line-up was set by owner's points for Friday night's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington Raceway. Brian Vickers climbed into the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota for his fifth start in the Braun Racing Camry this season and started the night from the tenth position.

The tone of the race was set as the field drove into turn one on the first lap of the 147-lap event. The first spin of the day occurred and the checkered flag was displayed. Vickers restarted the race in the ninth position and was beginning to make his climb when only three laps later, the second caution of the night happened. The No. 32 Dollar General Toyota lined up and restarted in the eight spot.

On the restart, a car ahead of Vickers struggled and began to slide sideways. With nowhere to go, Vickers checked up and the car made slight contact with the left rear of the No. 32 Camry. Vickers radioed to crew chief, Trent Owens, to check his left side to make sure that the fender damage was not cutting into the tire. Owens replied to his driver that everything looked ok. As this was occurring, the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota lost valuable track position, sliding back to the 12th spot.

The caution flag was put out for debris on the track on lap 42. Vickers, running in the 11th position, reported to his team that his car was "tight from the center off. I can't get the throttle down. It's not too bad in clean air but it is pretty tight in traffic. Really tight actually."

The field came to pit road for the first round of pit stops for the evening. The Dollar General crew jumped over the wall and put four tires on the No. 32 Toyota, packed it full of fuel and made track bar and air pressure adjustments to combat the car's tight handling. Their quick work gained Vickers two positions and he restarted in the ninth spot.

The night's fourth caution quickly followed when the No. 09 spun on the front stretch on lap 50. Vickers remained in the ninth position. The next green-flag run was nearly forty laps and gave Vickers the opportunity to assess the Camry's handling for his team. Early in the run, Vickers and Owens discussed moving the track bar back down and removing spring rubbers on the next pit stop. Vickers reported that the first pit stop had freed the car up in turns one and two, but not when he got on the throttle coming out of turn four where he really needed the help. On lap 77, however, Vickers radioed to the Dollar General team that the car was "not too bad right now. I'll keep you posted!"

On lap 91 the fifth caution of the day came out when contact between the No. 10 and No. 52 occurred. Vickers reported that "the car's handling was starting to come to us, but then we lost it again. The car is still a little tight on both exists and especially in [turn] three."

Under this caution the leaders pitted again. Vickers came down pit road running in the ninth position. The Dollar General team quickly changed four tires, added fuel and lowered the track bar. Valuable track position was lost as the crew wrestled a rubber out of the car's heavily compressed spring. Vickers restarted the race on lap 96 in the 15th spot.

Vickers quickly made up ground and charged into the 11th position by the next caution flag on lap 107. Vickers reported that the car's handling was much improved and that track position was all they lacked at this point. When the race returned to the green flag, he continued to battle for spots and climbed back into the top-10 in the closing laps. As the race concluded with a green-white-checker finish, Vickers held on to the tenth spot and claimed his fourth top-10 finish of the season.

"I think the rained-out qualifying definitely hurt us, forcing us to start 10th," said Vickers. "The guys worked really hard all night to free-up the Dollar General Toyota. It was a good car, probably not the winning car, but worthy of a top-five finish. After that restart and the 29 got really loose, I had nowhere to go and lost a lot of spots. Track position is everything and we just couldn't get it back."

The NASCAR Nationwide Series will enjoy a well-deserved off weekend next week and will return to action in two weeks at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Carquest Auto Parts 200. Brian Vickers will be behind the wheel of the No. 32 Dollar General Camry.

-credit: br

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Drivers Trent Owens , Brian Vickers