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Fast and Fun: Vickers Looking Forward to Atlanta

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 18, 2006) – Brian Vickers ended the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season on something of a hot streak, registering six top-15 finishes in the last 11 races. Very quietly, he’s maintained that solid push into 2006, with two strong runs, including a seventh-place finish at the season-opening Daytona 500.

Heading into the fourth race of the season, the 22-year-old Vickers is 12th overall in the standings, 178 points behind first-place Jimmie Johnson and just 27 back of seventh.

Though the No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet team struggled a bit last week at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Vickers is happy to return to Atlanta Motor Speedway, a track he especially enjoys.

“I like the race track because it’s fast, high-banked and fun,” he says. “Most drivers will tell you, having the ability to run a multitude of lines around the track can make for some good times behind the wheel, not to mention the fans like to see it as well.”

Hendrick Motorsports is always happy to roll into AMS, especially because the organization has won eight races at the track, the fourth-most by any team in NASCAR. And while Vickers hopes to give Hendrick the ninth win in its history (and tie it for second all-time, with Richard Childress Racing and Junior Johnson), the circuit’s fastest track does present teams with certain challenges—namely, practice by day, qualify by night.

“There’s a difference in the handling of the car for sure when comparing day and night at Atlanta,” Vickers says. “There’s also a certain amount of guesswork that goes into setting up the car to qualify at night, as opposed to during the day.

“Atlanta, especially now that the pavement has matured, gets slick when its warm and the speeds slow down.  You have to be real careful about not overshooting the setup, particularly with the front-end because we run the cars so low to the ground these days.”

In this race last year, Vickers finished sixth, the highlight of his early season; that result, coupled with this year’s strong start, has given him a quiet confidence heading forward

“The fact that we ran well at Daytona and California doesn’t surprise me,” he says, “but what does surprise me is some of the challenges we faced in terms of handling during the Las Vegas race. [But], I’m confident that any issues we had will be worked out when we get to Atlanta.”

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