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Vickers, GMAC Racing Hitting Their Stride

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Since the Pocono 500 three weeks ago, Brian Vickers and the No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet team have enjoyed arguably their best three-race stretch of the season.

Vickers and company followed up a fourth-place finish at Pocono Raceway with a 17th-place at Michigan and a 14th last week at Infineon Raceway.

Infineon is, according to no less a source than Jimmie Johnson, an incredibly difficult track on which to pass. Nevertheless, pass is precisely what Vickers did, negotiating his way past 28 cars to go from his starting spot of 42nd to that 14th-place finish.

The recent spurt has moved Vickers from 26th in the standings to 20th. And, as luck would have it, this week’s Pepsi 400 returns Vickers and the field to Daytona, a track on which he has flourished this year.

Not only did Vickers finish the season-opening Daytona 500 in seventh place, but the 22-year-old is also one of just two drivers to have finished in the top 10 in each of the last three restrictor-plate races (Tony Stewart is the other).

That consistency notwithstanding, Vickers would like nothing more than to come home a winner.

“We had a shot to win at Talladega a few months ago and the same can be said for the Daytona 500,” he says. “We’ve been able to put ourselves in a position to win. Now we just have to see if we can take that next step.”

In general, the next step can only be taken after one has gained the necessary experience, something Vickers is all too aware of.

“Superspeedway racing is difficult to learn,” he says. “The reason you see so many veterans excelling at it is because they have the experience at Daytona and Talladega. No other kind of racing can prepare you to race in the draft. The only way you can get the experience at the Cup level is to get out and race.”

Get out and race.  It sounds simple and so obvious, and, of course, it is. Still, there are many subtleties to learn as well.

“There’s a lot of strategy involved in how you position yourself for the closing laps of the race,” Vickers says. “What a lot of people don’t see is how much we actually use our mirrors. It’s safe to say in a superspeedway race you’re looking more out of the rearview mirror than you are out of the front.”