Daytona II: Brian Vickers race report

Vickers Collects Seventh Top-10 Finish of the Season at Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, Fla. (July 6, 2009) -- On Friday night, Brian Vickers climbed into the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota knowing that the opening laps of the Subway...

Vickers Collects Seventh Top-10 Finish of the Season at Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Fla. (July 6, 2009) -- On Friday night, Brian Vickers climbed into the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota knowing that the opening laps of the Subway Jalapeño 250 were going to be exciting as he prepared to charge from his 30th-place starting position. Showcasing his superspeedway talent and a Camry that was solid in its race set-up, Vickers moved into the top-10 in only seven laps. During the event's green-white-checkered finish, the night's seventh caution occurred, ending the race and scoring Vickers for a seventh-place finish.

During Thursday's two practice sessions, Vickers was very happy with the handling of his Toyota Camry and the Dollar General team. The team returned on Friday for the afternoon qualifying session. Vickers went out in the 18th position. Nearing the end of the session, cloud cover moved into the area and speeds began to drop. With two cars remaining, rain came down on the superspeedway. NASCAR paused the time trial session and cancelled qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series in order to dry the track and complete it for the Nationwide Series. When all was done, Vickers would start from the 30th position for the Friday night race.

Vickers climbed behind the wheel of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota knowing he had a car capable of moving forward quickly. It took only seven laps for Vickers to move into the top-10. On lap 11, the night's first caution came out when the No. 52 and No. 31 were involved in an accident on the backstretch. He came on the radio to report that the car's handling was pretty neutral, a little tight on the bottom but not bad. Crew Chief, Trent Owens, instructed his driver to follow the leader's pit strategy. Vickers and the leaders dove to pit road on lap 12. The Dollar General team changed four tires and added fuel. They made no adjustments and Vickers returned to the track in the 11th position.

On lap 15, cars lined up for the first-ever double file restart in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In the longest green-flag run of the evening, Vickers moved quickly into the 5th spot. Reporting that the Camry was "too tight on the bottom but good when I run on the top," Vickers was able to remain within the top-10 group of cars.

The caution fell again on lap 46 when the No. 09 suffered electrical problems and came to a stop on the track. Vickers took advantage of the opportunity to come to pit road for service and adjustments. The Dollar General crew quickly changed four tires, packed the Camry with fuel and made a track bar adjustment to help correct the car's handling. Prior to the restart, Vickers came on the radio to ask Owens if they could make it the rest of the race on fuel. Owens replied ,"Not yet."

The Toyota's handling remained too tight for Vickers to drive in the low line on the superspeedway. The opportunity to make additional adjustments came on lap 59 when a multi-car wreck occurred on the backstretch. Vickers returned to pit road for four tires, fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments. When the race restarted on lap 64, the No. 32 soared into the top-five. On lap 68, with the No. 29 leading the race, Vickers battled side-by-side with the No. 6 for second place. When the night's fourth caution came out on lap 72 for debris, Vickers was in the third position.

Vickers came on the radio and asked what was going on with his Braun Racing teammate Jason Leffler. Owens reported that the No. 38 was too loose on the top to run with the Dollar General Toyota and that was why he had to abandon Vickers and move to the inside during the last run. The No. 6 came to pit road for service, moving the No. 32 into the second position for the restart. This move placed Vickers into his preferred outside line, however despite having a fast car, Vickers quickly fell back when the race restarted because he did not have the drafting help he needed.

When the caution came out again only three laps later on lap 78, Owens informed Vickers that the No. 38, which was restarting directly behind the No. 32, had lost third gear on that restart. "Really? Yeah, that killed us," replied Vickers. Discussing pit strategy, Vickers and Owens agreed that unless everyone came to pit road, the No. 32 would remain on track. The leaders stayed out and Vickers followed suit.

Vickers restarted in the fifth spot and moved up to the second position again in only two laps. On lap 88, with Vickers trying to hold tight to the yellow line, the No. 60 edged a nose on the inside of the No. 32, sending Vickers to the outside. Vickers was relegated back to the eighth position when the caution came out for a front stretch multi-car accident on lap 96, setting up a green-white-checkered flag finish. On the final lap and before the leaders could cross the start-finish line, the final caution came out, freezing the field. Vickers finished the night in the seventh position, his seventh top-10 in only nine starts.

"We had a great car tonight," said Vickers. "This Dollar General team did a great job. I'm not sure what happened before that final caution. We were running second and down on the yellow line when we were passed on the inside. I thought there was a rule about advancing below the yellow. This car is much better than seventh-place and I think we could have challenged for the lead in those last laps."

Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway next weekend for the Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca-Cola. The Friday night race will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN and on MRN Radio starting at 7:30 p.m. EST. The green flag is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EST.

-credit: br

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Drivers Jason Leffler , Trent Owens , Brian Vickers