Vickers Surging in Second Half
- Oct 21, 2005
- 5 Team
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 21, 2005) – While much of the fanfare in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series currently revolves around the Chase for the Championship and the 10 teams competing, there’s another battle shaping up to be just as exciting.
Quietly, Brian Vickers and the GMAC Racing team have assembled not only one of the best second halves of 2005, but one of the best seasons for the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports team in recent memory.
Despite not being one of the 10 going for this year’s NEXTEL Cup title, the No. 25 team has accumulated 662 points since the Chase began. That total is seventh-best amongst all teams and just 70 markers fewer than co-leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson.
In the last 14 races dating back to Chicagoland Speedway, Vickers’ No. 25 team has finished outside the top-15 on just two occasions. His 12th-place result at Lowe’s Motor Speedway last week was the fifth consecutive top-15 finish for the 21-year-old NEXTEL Cup sophomore.
The consistency has moved the team from 22nd to 15th in the standings—just 63 points behind Elliott Sadler for the coveted 11th-place position, which receives an invitation to the NEXTEL Cup awards banquet and a bonus of $1 million.
Going into this weekend’s short-track event at the Martinsville Speedway, Vickers is confident about his team’s chances at a earning a spot in New York City, where the banquet is annually held.
“If we can get a finish at Martinsville, I think the remaining four tracks on the schedule play into our strengths,” Vickers said. “It would be a great accomplishment for the team to end the season in 11th and would be a reward of sorts for all of the hard work put in by everyone at Hendrick Motorsports.”
If Vickers maintains his current 15th-place position in the Cup standings, GMAC Racing will record the best performance by the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports since its 12th-place season with driver Ken Schrader in 1996. Should the team improve, it will challenge that mark.
Vickers’ career-best result at .526-mile Martinsville is 13th, which came in the April 2004 event. In his two starts since, he’s only managed finishes of 27th and 35th, but the team spent two days testing there last month and left with optimism.
“I feel good about how things went during the test and can honestly say the car we used primarily was the best I’ve ever driven at the track,” Vickers said. “At the end of a 100-lap run, we were posting lap times faster than when we tested there earlier this season.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”