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Vickers Enjoys the Speed, Strategy of ‘Dega

TALLADEGA, Ala. (Sept. 29, 2005) – Brian Vickers has been one of the hottest drivers on the NEXTEL Cup circuit throughout the summer months, earning more points than anyone outside NASCAR’s “Chase for the Championship.”

In fact, Vickers has built some powerful momentum while compiling more points than all but six drivers since the July 10 race at Chicagoland Speedway.  His 14th-place finish Sunday at Dover, Del., was his ninth top-15 showing in the last 11 races.

The 21-year-old NEXTEL Cup sophomore from Thomasville, N.C., has notched five top-10 finishes during that same span and hopes to carry that success into this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, the high-banked 2.66-mile tri-oval just 45 minutes from Birmingham.

Having learned the ins and outs from his teammates, Vickers knows the pitfalls of competing at the restrictor-plate tracks of Talladega and Daytona Beach, Fla.  But he also understands how the game is played.

“I don’t think people really realize the strategy involved with plate racing,” said Vickers, driver of the No. 25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolets.  “I’ve had the good fortune of being able to learn from two of the best in Jeff (Gordon) and Jimmie (Johnson).

“I mean, you can bump draft or stall out the progress of another car based upon where you position yours and how the air is hitting their car.  You’d be surprised what air does at 200 mph.”

So what’s it like running under those conditions?  Vickers sees two sides.

“I like going fast, plain and simple, so for me it’s a rush,” he said.  “On the other hand, running at Talladega is mentally taxing because you focus so hard on what’s happening ahead of and behind you.  Nowadays, you’re looking just as much in your mirror as you are out of the windshield to see drafting lines are forming behind you and whether or not you should jump in front of them or maintain your position.

“We run inches apart from one another, knowing the slightest bobble can cause a big mess, but that’s why the fans are on the edge of their seats for the duration.  It’s very intense and you really don’t have a single moment to let your guard down.”

Vickers’ team will field Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 308 this weekend.  They raced the car in July at Daytona, where it ran in the top 10 most of the event until sustaining damage in an accident.

That, says Vickers, is the most difficult part about this type of racing.

“I will admit that competing at places like Daytona and Talladega can be frustrating because it is so easy to be swept up in someone else’s accident that you had no part in causing,” he said.

“That’s the frustrating part.”


On Friday, Vickers will greet fans and sign autographs beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET at Edwards Chevrolet-East in Birmingham.

The next day, he will sign at the No. 25 GMAC Racing souvenir hauler following Saturday’s final NEXTEL Cup practice at Talladega.


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