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Vickers Eyes Big Prize at Brickyard

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 4, 2004) - When the first Brickyard 400 was run in 1994, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie Brian Vickers was just 10 years old and driving go-karts.

A decade later, the youngest full-time driver on the NEXTEL Cup circuit is about to make his first career start at the oldest track on the schedule.

Vickers, driver of the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolets, has a chance to make Indianapolis Motor Speedway history by becoming the youngest-ever Brickyard 400 winner at age 20.

Coincidently, it is Vickers’ Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon, who currently holds that honor in the IMS record book, winning the inaugural event in 1994 as a 23-year-old.

“I’ve been to different events at the track (IMS) and even driven the road course in a stock car,” Vickers said.  “This time, I think it’s going to be a totally different experience for me.”

As part of last year’s “Tradin’ Paint” event featuring Gordon and Formula One star Juan Montoya, Vickers turned some laps around Indy’s road course in Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet, but never had experienced the venue’s famous 2.5-mile oval until the No. 25 team spent two days testing there in July.

“I nearly missed Turn 1 the first time out on the track,” Vickers said.  “I was too busy taking it all in and looking at the grandstands.  It really is a great place and I can’t wait to get back for the race.”

Being in awe of the facility didn’t last long, nor did it hamper Vickers’ on-track performance as he and his Hendrick Motorsports team posted the second-fastest lap in July’s NASCAR testing.  Of the 38 drivers that took part, only Jeff Green posted a faster lap.

While winning Sunday’s 400-miler would mark his first career NEXTEL Cup victory, it wouldn’t be the first win for Vickers in the city of Indianapolis.  In August 2003, the Thomasville, N.C., native captured his first career NASCAR triumph at Indianapolis Raceway Park en route to the 2003 Busch Series championship.

“IRP isn’t the Brickyard, but winning my first race in Indianapolis was very special,” he said.  “Racing is a part of the city’s history and, whether it’s IRP or the Brickyard, I’m glad to be able to say I’ve won in Indianapolis.

“Maybe we’ll be fortunate enough to bring home another trophy from Indy.”

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