Vickers ropes in a seventh-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, concluding his 2009 Nationwide Series season FT. WORTH, Texas (November 9, 2009) -- Brian Vickers took the wheel of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota for the last time at Texas ...
Vickers ropes in a seventh-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, concluding his 2009 Nationwide Series season
FT. WORTH, Texas (November 9, 2009) -- Brian Vickers took the wheel of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota for the last time at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, wrapping up his 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series season with Braun Racing. After battling a loose condition that kept him in the top-12 for most of the race, Vickers charged from 14th to a seventh-place finish following the final caution and pit stop. Saturday's finish marked his 12th top-10 in 17 starts.
Under sunny Texas skies, Vickers and his team observed a moment of silence for the victims and families of Thursday's Fort Hood tragedy that struck close to many at the Ft. Worth-based track. Following the pre-race ceremonies, he climbed into the yellow and black Toyota and lined up in the ninth position to take the green flag for the O'Reilly Challenge. The No. 32 immediately climbed forward, taking over the seventh position in the first two laps. The forward progress came to a halt and he began to slip backwards, falling to 10th by lap 14. Vickers reported to crew chief, Trent Owens, that his car had an extremely loose condition.
As the pit window neared, Vickers continued to look for a position on the wide 1.5-mile track that would help the car's handling. He told Owens, "It is really loose when I run on the top, too. The car feels like it jumps out from under me."
On lap 55, Owens called Vickers to pit road for service. The Dollar General team quickly changed four tires, packed the car with fuel and made wedge, track bar and air pressure adjustments. As the field cycled through the green-flag stops, Vickers had moved back up to the 11th position when the caution came out on lap 60.
Vickers reported that the car continued to have a loose-handling condition, especially going over the "tunnel bumps" on his fresh tires. "I just can't attack the car like these guys can," he told Owens.
Knowing that he would only lose one spot, Owens called his driver back to pit road for an additional wedge adjustment and to top the Camry off with fuel. When the race restarted on lap 64, the No. 32 Toyota was in the 12th position.
Two laps later, a multi-car wreck in turn two brought out the next caution flag. Vickers told Owens that the Dollar General Toyota was handling much better. The race resumed on lap 70 with the No. 32 in the 12th position.
By lap 82, Vickers had moved the No. 32 into the top-10. "The car is much better. We just need some track position now and we'll be in good shape."
A multi-car accident brought out the next caution of the afternoon on lap 105. Vickers brought the No. 32 Camry to pit road for service. The Dollar General team changed four tires, made a wedge adjustment and filled the car with fuel. Their fast and flawless stop gained Vickers two positions on the track.
"Great job," Vickers told the crew as he lined the car up for the restart in the eighth position. As the race resumed with cars lined up in double-file fashion, a car in the outside line experienced some trouble, causing everyone to slow behind him, including Vickers.
When the caution flag flew on lap 120 for another multi-car accident, Vickers was running ninth. He reported to Owens that he was now battling a tight condition. Owens called him to pit road for adjustments on lap 124. The crew quickly took a round of wedge out of the car and topped him off with fuel. The No. 32 was in the 11th position when the race resumed on lap 128.
Vickers climbed back into the ninth spot before the fifth caution of the day came out on lap 154 for a spinning car in turn three. "We are still too tight in the center and on the initial throttle," Vickers said. "I lose it when I get back on the gas."
Vickers brought the car to pit road on lap 156 for adjustments. Owens called for his crew to change four tires and make track bar and air pressure changes. "We are good on fuel from here," Owens told his driver. "We do have a set of two-lap scuffs [tires] in case we need them."
"Even if we have a green, white, checkered finish?" asked Vickers.
"Yes, we are good all the way," replied Owens.
The race resumed on lap 160 with the No. 32 in the ninth position.
Vickers climbed up to eighth by the time the caution flag came out again on lap 167.
"The car is handling pretty good now, especially in clean air," he said. "We are just stuck in traffic."
As the cars circled the track under caution, Vickers and spotter, Chris Lambert, discussed where he could find grip over the famous "tunnel bumps." Lambert told him where the leaders were entering and exiting the corners and where they appeared to pick up speed.
As the race resumed on lap 173, a car in front of the No. 32 missed a shift, causing the field to bunch up and lose track positions. When the caution flag flew again on lap 179, Vickers had fallen back to 10th. "We just have no luck with getting in the right line," Vickers said with frustration in his voice. "Whatever line we are in, someone misses a shift or screws up."
With only 20 laps remaining in the race and minimal track position to sacrifice, Owens made the call to have Vickers come to pit road for one final stop. The Dollar General crew quickly put on the four scuffed tires and made a wedge adjustment. Vickers restarted the race in the 14th position.
In the closing laps, Vickers charged the No. 32 Camry through the field. Running lap times faster than the leaders, he simply ran out of time to make it to the front and took the checkered flag for the O'Reilly Challenge in the seventh position, claiming his 12th top-10 finish of the season.
"We ended up with a really good car today," said Vickers. "Trent [Owens] and the Dollar General team did a great job at making adjustments throughout the race. We just ran out of time to make our way to the front. I want to thank everyone at Braun Racing for a great year and Dollar General for all of their support. They have been a great sponsor to work with."
Reed Sorenson will return to the wheel of the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, making his second appearance of the season.
Next Stop: The NASCAR Nationwide Series travels to Arizona for the Able Body Labor 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.