GMAC Racing Finishes 31st at Atlanta
- Oct 27, 2003
HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 27, 2003) – For the third time in three races, there was a change atop the NASCAR Busch Series point standings. Unfortunately, it was at the expense of the GMAC Racing team following Saturday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
It was just three races ago when the team lost the point lead after finishing 32nd at Kansas Speedway. Entering Saturday’s race, driver Brian Vickers led the standings by 23 markers over David Green, but misfortune struck the No. 5 team early in the race.
After starting from the fifth position, it took only two laps for bad luck to strike. During a three-wide battle with Casey Mears and Hank Parker Jr. in Turn 2, contact was made when Parker drifted up into Vickers’ No. 5 Chevrolet, resulting in damage to the front fenders.
On Lap 4, the team pitted to repair the damage and was forced to restart the race in 41st. Vickers had marched his way back to 16th until Lap 47 when he spun in Turn 2. As a result of the spin, the No. 5 Chevy sustained a flat left-front tire.
Vickers immediately pitted for service, but the team elected not to change tires during the stop to avoid losing a lap and returned to the field for another lap to catch back up. While circling back around, the flat tire blew out and shredded, causing significant damage to the left-front fender.
The team spent several laps in the pits and behind the wall repairing the damage before re-entering the race on Lap 65 in 37th.
With plenty of laps remaining, Vickers continued his pursuit of valuable championship points and at times was running lap times comparable or faster than the leader, despite the damage.
By Lap 182, Vickers had moved into 34th and, by the end of the race, gained three more positions to finish 31st.
“It just was not our day,” Vickers said. “Once things started to go wrong, they kept going wrong for us—everything just snowballed.
“Hank Parker decided to make it three-wide right away and got into us. There’s no reason for it. He’s not racing for a championship. Then, we had a tire blow. Just a bad day from start to finish.”
The finish dropped Vickers from first to fifth place in the standings, just 49 points behind first-place Green with three races remaining.
“Finishing 31st didn’t help us any in the points, that’s for sure,” Vickers said. “It seems like whoever is leading is jinxed, race after race.
“There’s three races left and our GMAC team is not going to give up, that’s just not our style. We were faced with the same challenge three races ago when we finished 32nd at Kansas, and then battled back to lead the points three races later. Now, we’ve got three races to go for the title. Don’t count us out.”
Vickers and the GMAC team will look to rebound when the Busch Series visits Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. ET (TNT, MRN Radio).