Las Vegas: Brian Vickers race report

Vickers wraps up a three race stretch in the Dollar General Toyota with a top-five finish at Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nev. (March 1, 2010) -- Brian Vickers traveled to Las Vegas this weekend for the Sam's Town 300. Showers delayed the start of ...

Vickers wraps up a three race stretch in the Dollar General Toyota with a top-five finish at Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nev. (March 1, 2010) -- Brian Vickers traveled to Las Vegas this weekend for the Sam's Town 300. Showers delayed the start of the 200-lap race. Shortly following the wet driver introductions, the rain subsided and the process of drying the track's surface began. Two hours later, Vickers climbed into the Dollar General Toyota and started the race from the tenth spot. Despite the threat of rain throughout the late afternoon event, the race concluded in its entire length with Vickers bringing home his second top-five of the 2010 season.

Vickers and the Dollar General team knew that track position was vital as rain continued to remain in the area. Vickers immediately went to work to move to the front of the field, and was running in the eighth position when an accident in turn two brought out the first caution of the day on lap six. Vickers reported that the car's handling was a little too tight. He put in a round of rear brake to assist with the handling until the team had the opportunity to make adjustments in the pits. As NASCAR clean-up crews worked to remove the debris, the cars continued to circle the track for the lengthy caution.

"What is taking so long?" asked an anxious Vickers. "We need to get going if we're going to get this race in today."

Green-flag racing resumed on lap 14, however, it did not take long for another caution to occur. On lap 17, an accident in turn one brought out the yellow flag once again. In only three laps, Vickers had moved the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota into the fourth spot. The Dollar General crew stood poised on pit wall waiting for Crew Chief Trent Owens to make the call. Deciding to remain on the track, Vickers lined up in the third position for the restart on lap 22.

Vickers remained near the front of the field, running in the third position for the next 28 laps. After engaging in a battle to keep the third spot, Vickers slipped to fourth on lap 50. He described the car's condition to Owens.

"The car is good in and good off," said Vickers. "It's just a little tight in the center of the turns. I've tried both lines and it is really tight on the bottom. It's okay if I stay on the top."

As the leaders began making their green-flag pit stops, Owens called his driver to pit road on lap 55. The Dollar General team quickly changed four tires, added fuel and made track bar and air pressure adjustments. As the stops cycled through, Vickers moved back into the fourth position.

An accident in turn one brought out the third caution of the day on lap 85. Vickers brought the No. 32 to pit road for service on lap 87. The Dollar General crew quickly changed four tires, packed the Camry with fuel, made an air pressure adjustment and put a spring rubber in the right rear to help with the tight-center condition. The team's fast and flawless service put Vickers back into the fourth spot for the restart on lap 93.

"Great stop guys," exclaimed Vickers. "That was really good under pressure, especially with those adjustments!"

Vickers jumped out to the third position after the restart and took over the second spot during the following lap.

Spotter Chris Lambert reported that he could see rain just beyond the track, near the Nellis Air Force base. "It's definitely coming. I can see it on the airfield now."

As the No. 20 and No. 60 cars battled for the third position, Vickers took advantage and gained additional time on them. He reported to Owens, "The car is handling a lot better. It is finally starting to work on the bottom. I can run wide open through [turns] three and four, but I still need to roll [out of the gas] just a bit through one and two."

Shortly after the race's halfway point, Vickers told the team that he was starting to see raindrops on the windshield of the Dollar General Toyota. On lap 104, NASCAR threw the yellow flag for rain. The cars remained on the track, circling at their reduced speeds. The weather moved quickly past the track and green-flag racing resumed on lap 109.

In the opening laps of the next run, there was great side-by-side racing as cars battled for positions. The No. 20 Toyota pushed the Dollar General Camry down the frontstretch. With the No. 18 and No. 60 cars on the outside, Vickers fought to maintain his second-place position. On lap 117, the No. 12 car dove inside and fought for the spot as well. When the caution flag came out on lap 118 for an accident on the frontstretch, the No. 12 had just inched past the No. 32, leaving Vickers in the third position.

"The car is still too tight," said Vickers. "It is a lot better in clean air, but when I'm in traffic, it tightens up a lot."

Owens told Vickers to follow the leaders if they came down pit road. On lap 119, the No. 18 and No. 12 cars drove to pit road with Vickers behind them. As the car made its way down the long pit road, Owens ordered the crew to add a wedge adjustment to the two-tire stop. The Dollar General crew quickly changed the two right-side tires, added fuel and one round of wedge into the right rear. With some cars opting not to come to pit road, Vickers restarted the race from the sixth position on lap 122.

Vickers quickly moved up to the third position. On lap 134, he slipped to fifth following a three-wide contest with the No. 33 and No. 22 cars. On lap 145 the caution flag was displayed when an accident occurred in turn four, allowing Vickers the opportunity to bring the No. 32 to pit road for adjustments. The Dollar General crew quickly changed four tires, packed the car with fuel and made an additional track bar adjustment. Executing another fast pit stop, Vickers restarted the race in the eighth spot on lap 151, sacrificing three positions to those cars that chose to change only two tires.

With four fresh Goodyear tires on the Dollar General Toyota, Vickers immediately jumped into the seventh position. On lap 157, Vickers told the team that the window net had wiggled loose and was down. Every member of the Dollar General team held his breath as Vickers worked to get the net back up. After reporting that he was able to get the net back into place, everyone in the No. 32 pit breathed a sigh of relief. On lap 166, an accident in turn four brought out the seventh caution of the day. With 30 laps remaining in the race, Vickers restarted from the eighth position on lap 170. On the next lap, a multi-car accident in turn two resulted in the eighth and final caution of the day.

Green-flag racing resumed with 25 laps remaining in the race. Vickers restarted from the eighth position and picked his way through the field, passing cars one by one. On lap 190, the No. 32 and No. 12 ran side-by-side for the fifth spot. Vickers ran out of laps to move forward any further and finished the afternoon in the fifth position, his second top-five finish of the 2010 season.

"I really didn't think we would get all 200 laps of this race in today," said Vickers. "The Dollar General team did a good job adjusting on the car all afternoon. We had great pit stops again this week. The car felt really good in those last 25 laps. As long as we were in clean air, we were good. I have a lot of fun driving the No. 32 and working with these guys. I'll miss it, but I will be back in Talladega."

Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series has a two week break in the schedule before heading to Bristol Motor Speedway.

-source: braun racing

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Drivers Trent Owens , Brian Vickers