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Vickers Prepared for Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. (June 23, 2004) - Driving the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, Brian Vickers will make his NASCAR debut on a road course during this weekend’s NEXTEL Cup Series event at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma.

In an effort to better prepare for Sunday’s Save Mart 350, GMAC Racing tested at three different road courses:  Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C.; Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va.; and Infineon Raceway.

Vickers came away from his recent test at Infineon feeling confident.

“We made a bunch of changes to the car throughout the day, electing to stay in race trim for the duration,” Vickers said.  “It took me a little while to get going and learn the track, but by the end of the day I felt good about our progress.”

A Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender, Vickers has not entered a competitive road course race since his go-kart days in the mid-1990s, which, in part, explains why the team has taken such a proactive approach to the upcoming events at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, N.Y.

“Even though I haven’t done much racing on road courses in a long time, I still look forward to the opportunities at Infineon and Watkins Glen,” Vickers said.  “Some teams don’t put a lot of effort toward the road course events, but there was no way we would take that approach.

“Enjoying the road courses is all up to the driver.  You can’t force yourself to like something.  If you want to try hard, learn the skills and be open-minded about it all, there’s a good chance you can excel at it.  The key is wanting to do it.”

Throughout the testing process, Vickers has benefited from the advice of teammate Jeff Gordon, one of NASCAR’s best road racers.

“Jeff’s provided me with assistance in one way or another at every road course I’ve tested so far, whether it be at the test or on the phone,” Vickers said.  “Information on braking, shift points and making sure to get off the corners has been just some of the stuff he’s tried to help me with.”

And what has Vickers gleaned from all his newfound experience?

“The answer sounds very simple, but in reality it’s not that easy,” he said.  “In order to be successful, I’ve learned that I can’t drive a road course like an oval.

“There’s not a single turn on a road course that you can approach like you would on a oval.”

Vickers and GMAC Racing captured their second top-10 finish of 2004 on Sunday, coming in ninth at Michigan International Speedway.  The 20-year-old’s career-best NEXTEL Cup result came in May at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, where he finished eighth.

The MIS performance vaulted Vickers and the No. 25 team three places in the championship standings to 19th.  They left the season-opener at Daytona Beach, Fla., 39th overall.

GMAC Racing extended its string of top-10 qualifying efforts to six races after earning the outside pole position at Michigan.

During the stretch dating back to the May 2 event at California Speedway, Vickers and the No. 25 team have an average starting position of 3.16.


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