GMAC Racing 14th in CARQUEST 300
- May 25, 2003
CONCORD, N.C. (May 24, 2003) – After two consecutive top-five finishes, the GMAC Racing team headed into Saturday’s CARQUEST 300 with high hopes of continuing their hot streak, but things don’t always work out like you want them to.
Being able to run well at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is dependent upon being able to adjust to the changing track, and for most of the race the GMAC team kept right up with the variable weather conditions.
After starting 18th, driver Brian Vickers again showed his patience as he began dicing his way through the field, one car at a time. By Lap 56, Vickers had moved into ninth despite his No. 5 GMAC / CARQUEST Chevrolet being just a little tight in the center of the corners. The team was encouraged though, because the lap times kept getting quicker as Vickers continued to run times as fast or faster than the leader.
Green-flag pit stops began to cycle through on Lap 59, with the GMAC team electing to pit on Lap 64 for fresh tires, fuel, an air-pressure change and wedge adjustment. Once pit stops were finished, Vickers once again assumed the ninth-place position on Lap 90.
On Lap 105, the second caution flag of the race waved and most of the front-running teams elected to pit, including GMAC Racing. The team changed four tires, made an air-pressure change and another wedge adjustment before sending Vickers out of the pits in 10th.
The pit stop of the day by the GMAC team came on Lap 137 after the third caution flag waved. With Vickers running in ninth, the team elected to change four tires, add fuel and make another wedge adjustment. Great work by the crew made up three positions in the pits and moved Vickers into sixth on the restart at Lap 142, but that would be as high as the team would climb in the running order as the No. 5 Chevy started to slide back through the field.
On Lap 161, Vickers radioed his crew and told them he thought a tire was going down. Not wanting to take any chances, he came to pit road on Lap 163 to the attention of his crew, who changed tires and sent Vickers on his way. After further investigation, Vickers’ suspicion of a tire problem was confirmed as the right-front tire was cut. The green-flag pit stop relegated Vickers to 16th, at the tail end of the lead lap.
When the leaders pitted on Lap 167, the GMAC team elected to stay out to gain track position. On the restart at Lap 172, Vickers was running in 15th—the third car at the end of the lead lap.
Hoping for a quick caution flag to put him back on the lead lap, Vickers was passed by the leaders as he battled for several circuits with the No. 86 Chevrolet of Jeff Fultz, causing the leaders to get away and dashing all hopes of getting the lap back.
Vickers finally passed Fultz and moved into 14th before a late-race caution flag on Lap 198 forced the race to end under the yellow flag.
Despite the team’s 14th-place finish, Vickers managed to move up one position in the driver standings to eighth, just 209 markers behind leader Todd Bodine.
“Our car was really good on older tires,” Vickers said. “It’s ashame to have a cut tire like we did because we had another great car that was capable of finishing up front. Our finishing position wasn’t bad, but I guess we’ve gotten accustomed to better. We’ll bounce back at Dover.”
NASCAR Winston Cup Series regular Matt Kenseth went on to claim the win in Saturday’s CARQUEST 300 as Vickers’ Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Busch finished second in his Busch Series debut in the No. 87 ditech.com Chevrolet.
Next up for the GMAC Racing team will be the MBNA All-American Heroes 200 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Saturday, May 31. Live coverage of the event will begin at 12:30 p.m. EDT on FX and MRN Radio.
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