GMAC Racing Survives Bristol, Finishes Seventh
- Aug 25, 2003
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 25, 2003) – The GMAC Racing team departed Bristol Motor Speedway Friday night unscathed and managed to even draw closer to NASCAR Busch Series points leader Scott Riggs.
With 11 races remaining in the 2003 season, and five drivers challenging for this year’s title, the Food City 250 at the .533-mile short track served as one of the pivotal events in the chase for the championship.
By qualifying third and matching their season-best qualifying effort, GMAC Racing was poised to put forth another great effort—and they did.
Bristol is known for providing plenty of action—and caution flags—and Friday night was no different as the yellow flag waved 13 times, just one short of the event record.
The race was interrupted frequently during the opening laps, making it difficult for Brian Vickers, driver the No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, to get into any sort of rhythm. After 50 laps, he continued to run in the third position despite having a noticeably faster car than eventual race winner Michael Waltrip.
As the event progressed, GMAC Racing team members continued to monitor an approaching weather system that seemed destined for the half-mile bullring.
On Lap 107, the fifth caution flag of the race waved and most of the front-running teams elected to pit for service. Hoping for rain, the No. 5 GMAC Chevrolet remained on the track and assumed the lead on the Lap 110 restart.
Vickers would continue to lead until the caution flag waved again on Lap 143, just seven laps short of an official race—if it were to rain.
The GMAC Racing team could no longer wait on the weather and elected to pit on Lap 144 for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment to help loosen the No. 5 Chevrolet in the turns. Out of pit sequence with most of the other teams, Vickers restarted the race on Lap 149 in 17th after the pit stop.
With 100 laps remaining in the event, Vickers began his march toward the front, and by Lap 196 had moved into ninth place.
It was apparent during the green-flag laps that Vickers had a much better car than the competitors in front of him, but passing was difficult and the frequent breaks in the action for caution periods did not aid in his efforts as the remaining 50 laps were slowed with four caution flags.
As the race drew to a close, Vickers was able to gain two more positions before settling for a seventh-place finish. Waltrip, a NASCAR Winston Cup Series regular, won Friday night’s event in front of a crowd of more than 120,000.
GMAC Racing now trails Riggs by just 135 points—an improvement of 13 markers.
“Our goal coming into this race was to avoid being caught up in all of the yellow flags and we were successful at that,” Vickers said. “I think we had a car that could’ve challenged for the win, but the caution flag kept coming out. Knowing how things could have ended, I think we had a good night and managed to pick up a few more points on Scott (Riggs).”
GMAC Racing will look to tame “The Track Too Tough To Tame” on Saturday, Aug. 30 when the Busch Series competes at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for the Winn Dixie 200. Live coverage of the event will begin at 2 p.m. ET on NBC and MRN Radio.