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GMAC Racing Builds Momentum at Daytona

Sunday’s seventh-place finish by driver Brian Vickers was the best result for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 25 Chevrolet team in the Daytona 500 since 1997 when the organization completed a sweep of the top-three positions.

The performance provides GMAC Racing with a boost going into this weekend’s NEXTEL Cup event at California Speedway, a track where Vickers has been successful in the past.

“Momentum is so important and to be able to come out of the gate with it is nice,” Vickers said.  “It was a great run for us.  It was the best I’ve ever done in the race and the best Daytona 500 finish for the No. 25 team in several years.

“Of course we wanted to win, but it was still a good day.  We’re going to carry the momentum into California with the goal of having a good run and building even more.”

Vickers, driver of the No. 25 GMAC Chevrolets, has made four career starts in the NEXTEL Cup Series at California Speedway and maintains an average starting position of 4.5, best among active NEXTEL Cup drivers at the two-mile oval.

The GMAC team had a successful test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in January, which Vickers thinks will translate into success at California this weekend.

“We had a decent test at Las Vegas and were able to gather a lot of information to take back to the shop and work with,” Vickers said.  “Knowing what we know, I think we should run well at California and have another solid day with a top-five or top-10 finish.

“And if we’ve a shot at it, we’ll go for the win.”

A Vickers victory at California would be a nice homecoming gift for GMAC Racing crew member Chris “Happy” Hamilton, who hails from nearby Redlands, Calif.

Hamilton is in his second season with the No. 25 team, working as a fabricator and catch-can operator on race day.  He worked with Hendrick Motorsports’ Busch Series operation that won the 2003 championship with Vickers and crew chief Lance McGrew.

Along with his NEXTEL Cup duties, Vickers will drive a No. 57 Mountain Dew Chevrolet in Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series event at California.  It will mark his second Busch Series race of the year after competing in the season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

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