Vickers Wins at Dover, Leads Standings!
- Sep 22, 2003
DOVER, Del. (Sep. 22, 2003) – The last time Hendrick Motorsports’ teenage duo of Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers competed together in a NASCAR Busch Series race was three weeks ago when they finished 1-2 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway with Vickers earning the win.
Hoping for the same results on Saturday at Dover International Speedway, Busch and Vickers started 21st and third respectively after Friday’s qualifying session was cancelled due to Hurricane Isabel.
Entering the race, Vickers trailed Busch Series points leader David Green by just 48 markers, but that would all change by the time the checkered flag waved on Saturday afternoon.
With limited practice time during the weekend, the early laps of the race were used by many teams to feel out their cars and setups.
On Lap 16, a major pile-up involving Green brought out the caution flag for the third time in the race. Busch, driving the No. 87 ditech.com Chevrolet, had moved from 21st to 12th in 13 laps, but sustained damage to the nose of his car when he ran into the back of another competitor, who slowed to avoid the accident. Busch made several stops during the yellow flag period to repair the damage.
Vickers was in second place when the accident occurred, and after racing resumed on Lap 25, it took him just 11 laps to move into the lead, where he would stay until the front-running cars began to make green flag pit stops on Lap 100.
On Lap 101, Vickers brought the No. 5 GMAC/CARQUEST Chevrolet to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to help loosen the car’s handling. Once the pit stops cycled through, he was in sixth, but many of the cars running in front off him were not on the same pit schedule. By Lap 115 he moved into second place where he would ride until the next caution flag on Lap 167.
With 32 laps remaining, all of the leaders elected to pit, including front-runner Scott Riggs, Vickers and Bobby Hamilton Jr. Crew chief Lance McGrew elected to take a no-fuel four-tire stop and the GMAC/CARQUEST crew performed flawlessly, beating Riggs off pit road for the lead.
When racing resumed, Vickers pulled away from second place, and seemed headed toward another win until the final caution flag of the race waved on Lap 197 with just three laps remaining.
On the Lap 199 restart, Vickers spun the tires slightly, allowing Hamilton to close briefly, but by the time they hit Turn 2, Vickers had opened a three-car-length lead and crossed the finish line .419 seconds ahead of Hamilton’s No. 25 entry.
“The guys on this team did it again,” Vickers said. “They came through in the clutch and put me out front for good. I’m not sure if we would have won (the race) if we didn’t win the race off pit road.
“It doesn’t get much better than this. We won the race and moved into the points lead. I hate to see what happened to David (Green) because I wanted to race him for those points.”
Vickers, 19, now has 17 top-10 finishes this season, the most of any driver on the circuit and currently leads the championship standings by 32 over Scott Riggs with seven races remaining.
Busch, just 18, drove his Chevrolet to a very respectable 15th-place finish after suffering damage early in the race.
“We had a much better car than our finish shows, but the damage early on put us behind the eight ball,” he said. “Having to start where we did wasn’t really a benefit to us. I think if we could’ve qualified, we would have been able to start closer to the front and maybe could have avoided that incident early on.”
Since joining Hendrick Motorsports, Busch has earned a pair of victories and two pole positions in ARCA Series competition. In his four career Busch Series starts, he has earned two runner-up finishes and failed to finish in the top-15 on just one occasion (Indianapolis Raceway Park, 33rd).
The Las Vegas native will next see action on Saturday, Sept. 27 in the ARCA Series event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
The Busch Series will next visit Kansas Speedway for the Mr. Goodcents 300 on Saturday, Oct. 4. The race will be carried live on NBC and MRN Radio beginning at 2 p.m. ET.