FONTANA, Calif. (Sept. 5, 2004) – Brian Vickers finished 13th in the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet at California Speedway, leading all Hendrick Motorsports drivers in Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event.
“We started great. The car was unbelievable,” Vickers said. “The guys did a great job. They were busting off 12, 13-second pit stops and we were staying out in the front. A bunch of guys took two tires there at the beginning and we mowed by them and (ran) the leaders down.
“About a quarter of the way through the race something happened to the car. We don’t know. It’s hard to say right now until we get back to the shop and examine everything. They measured some of the heights from the right-front. It was down a lot and it could have been a collapsed spring. Something could have happened there or something could have happened to the shocks.”
Vickers, the pole-sitter, was followed by 14th-place Jimmie Johnson, who started 16th, and Terry Labonte, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevy, who qualified 15th and finished 19th.
Piloting the No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo, Jeff Gordon started from the eighth position, but came in 37th after suffering engine trouble.
Young Kyle Busch drove a fifth Hendrick Motorsports entry, driving the No. 84 CARQUEST Chevrolet in his third career NEXTEL Cup race. He started 18th and finished 24th overall.
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, assumed the NEXTEL Cup championship lead, supplanting Gordon, who is now just 50 points back. Vickers is 23rd, with Labonte 24th.
Elliott Sadler went to Victory Lane on Sunday, beating out runner-up Kasey Kahne by .263 seconds for his second win of 2004.
Run at an average speed of 128.324 mph, the race lasted nearly four hours and included 11 caution periods that encompassed 51 laps.
The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will next visit Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, site of Saturday night’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400. TNT and MRN Radio will carry live coverage of the event beginning at 7 p.m. ET.