Vickers Leads Standings After ‘The Rock’
- Nov 10, 2003
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Nov. 10, 2003) – GMAC Racing did everything they needed to do to on Saturday at North Carolina Speedway, putting themselves in a good position to capture the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series championship.
Entering Saturday’s Target House 200, Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, trailed point leader Scott Riggs by 21 markers with two events remaining this season.
After capturing the pole during Friday’s qualifying session, the GMAC team was poised to cut into a lead that has changed hands eight times during the last 10 races.
Vickers quickly jumped to an early lead when the green flag waved and led for the first six laps until NASCAR Winston Cup Series regular Jeremy Mayfield passed him on Lap 7.
With Vickers running in fourth, the first caution flag waved on Lap 37 and all of the front-running cars elected to pit. The GMAC team changed four tires, added fuel and made an air pressure adjustment during the pit stop and, when racing resumed on Lap 41, Vickers had gained a position on pit road and was in fourth place.
Two more caution flags slowed the race on Laps 54 and 83 with Vickers sliding back to eighth on Lap 100, fighting a tight-handling condition in the center of the corners.
Green-flag pit stops began cycling through on Lap 115 and, on Lap 118 with Vickers in 11th, the GMAC team pitted for four fresh tires and fuel.
Following the pit stop, Vickers radioed crew chief Lance McGrew and told him the car was handling better. With tires playing an important role at North Carolina Speedway, Vickers began running some very consistent lap times while trying to conserve his tires until the end, in case another caution flag did not wave.
On Lap 165, the final caution flag of the event waved with Vickers in 12th and all of the front-running cars chose to pit for the final time. While in the pits, the GMAC team changed four tires, added fuel, made a track bar adjustment and air pressure adjustment. Great pit work by the crew gained five positions when racing resumed on Lap 176.
Vickers picked up one more position before the checkered flag waved and finished sixth. The sixth-place finish allowed the GMAC team to once again recapture the point lead heading into next Saturday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Our car wasn’t the best during the middle of the race, but during the last pit stop Lance made some adjustments that really helped the car,” Vickers said. “We were at our strongest at the end of the race like we needed to be.”
The GMAC team currently leads the championship standings by 22 markers over David Green heading into next weekend’s 200-lap event.
Live coverage of the championship-deciding race will begin on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 12 p.m. ET on NBC and MRN Radio.