DOVER, Del. (Sept. 24, 2004) – It wasn’t easy, but for the second time this season, Brian Vickers will start third when the green flag drops at Dover International Speedway.
During Friday morning’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practice, Vickers spun and made contact with the retaining wall, forcing the GMAC Racing team to unload its backup Chevrolet. With 15 minutes remaining, Vickers was able to make four laps and get a feel for the car before the session ended.
“It was a hard hit, but the GMAC crew did a great job getting this Chevrolet ready,” Vickers said. “The car was good. It was just a little loose off Turn 2, and that’s where I think we lost all of our time.
“I’m real proud of the guys on this team. For having to pull out the backup car, and with only four laps on the track, qualifying third is awesome.”
With a lap of 22.735 seconds in the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, Vickers earned the honors of being the highest-qualifying Hendrick Motorsports driver for Sunday’s 400-lap event. Teammates Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte qualified ninth, 21st and 38th, respectively.
Labonte, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolets, made contact with the retaining wall during his second of two qualifying laps. The two-time champion was taken to Dover’s infield care center and promptly released uninjured.
Jeremy Mayfield captured the pole for Sunday’s event, while Ryan Newman will start second. For the first time in NASCAR’s modern-era (1972 – present), the top-three drivers in time trials duplicated their qualifying results from the June race at Dover.
Live television coverage of Sunday’s race will begin Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on TNT.