VICKERS DOMINATES ROAD COURSE ACTION AT INFINEON IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, AUTOZONE WEST SERIES SONOMA, Calif. (June 24, 2006) -- Brian Vickers dominated the action on the road course at Infineon Raceway on Saturday, en route to...
VICKERS DOMINATES ROAD COURSE ACTION AT INFINEON IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, AUTOZONE WEST SERIES
SONOMA, Calif. (June 24, 2006) -- Brian Vickers dominated the action on the road course at Infineon Raceway on Saturday, en route to winning his first NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series race.
Vickers, a regular in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, paced the 35-car field for 61 of 64 laps -- winning the Blue Lizard Australian Suncream 200 by 1.429 of a second over road race specialist Boris Said.
"We had a great car all day long," Vickers said of his GMAC-sponsored Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. "We didn't even have to make any adjustments to it on the pit stops. I mean it was really, really spot on."
While Vickers -- who had won the Budweiser Pole Award with a lap of 90.872 mph -- was dominating the action up front, Boris Said was battling his way forward from 13th on the grid. Said had his Pacific States/DenBeste Transportation Ford in the runner-up spot just past the midway point of the race and pressured Vickers in the closing laps.
"Racing Boris there at the end was definitely a challenge," Vickers said. "We were better exiting (the turns). We were better through the esses. We were better through the high speed stuff. That's more along the lines of what I do every weekend, driving fast and a little loose through high-speed stuff. The braking zones were a little more his forte.
"I could have driven in a little deeper into probably just about every braking zone, but it was my race to lose and his to win," the Thomasville, N.C., driver said. "So, he was going to attack the corners a little more than I was. I was in a little better position to back the corners up and not take a chance of wheel hopping, not take a chance of locking tires up, rolling smooth and roll off fast. That's kind of how I attacked every corner, especially the esses. He was in a position where he had ground to make up. So, he was pushing it everywhere, especially the braking zones."
Series rookie Brian Ickler of San Diego turned in his best performance of the season. After qualifying third, he made an early charge to second. Although he lost ground after spinning off course on lap 11, Ickler was able to battle back for a career-best third-place finish in the NAPA Filters/McMillin Homes Chevrolet.
His teammate at Bill McAnally Racing and fellow rookie, Peyton Sellers of Danville, Va., finished fourth in the NAPA Auto Parts/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet. A third series rookie in the top five was Justin Lofton of Westmorland, Calif. It marked the first career top five finish for the driver of the Lofton Cattle Feeding Investments Chevrolet.
Rounding out the top 10 at Infineon were Tom Hubert, Todd Souza, Tom Dyer, Stan Silva Jr., and Jim Inglebright.
Vickers netted $11,000 for the win. His average speed was 67.595 mph. The pace was slowed by four cautions for 12 laps. It featured three lead changes among three drivers -- Vickers, Silva and Mike Duncan.
Mike David, who led the championship standings coming into the event, was involved in an incident at the second turn of the first lap and lost more than 20 laps while repairs were made to his car. Despite finishing 29th -- the Modesto, Calif., driver was able to maintain a slim five-point lead in the standings with 712 points. David was not the only top ranked driver to encounter trouble at Sonoma. Engine trouble sidelined Steve Portenga with a 33rd place finish and Eric Holmes finished 10 laps down in 25th. The outcome jumbled overall championship battle, with the top 10 drivers now separated by just 88 points.
Peyton Sellers is second in the standings with 707 points. He is followed by Holmes of Escalon, Calif., with 696; Duncan of Bakersfield, Calif., with 694 and Inglebright of Fairfield, Calif., with 691. Completing the top 10 are Ickler at 683, Portenga at 681, Scott Gaylord at 628, Brett Thompson at 628 and Lofton at 624.
Ickler and Sellers, each with 39 points, lead the chase for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. Lofton is third with 35 -- followed by Eric Hardin with 27 and James Bruncati with 20. Other rookies this year include Eric Humphries and Brian Pannone each with 16 points, Nick Lynch and Daniel DiGiacomo each with 15, Spencer Clark with 14, Justin Fisher with eight and Ed Watson with two.
The next event on the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series schedule is the BI-MART 150 presented by NAPA Belts & Hose at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore., on Saturday, July 1.