NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Pocono 500
Topics: Pocono 500
June 8, 2008
LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA
BRIAN VICKERS: I'm exhausted. Brian Vickers, No. 83, finished second. Any questions?
Q. I have a question about your car owner. How involved is he? Is he like an absentee owner? When is he in touch with you and will you have any contact with him after this good finish?
BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, you know, I speak to him occasionally, not very often. You know, very, very minimal compared to a lot of owners in the sport.
But you know when I do speak to him, he's a fantastic guy, extremely down-to-earth, very modest, almost shy in a way. He actually doesn't want any credit for anything. He never wants to be in the media. He doesn't even like standing next to his athletes in public, because he didn't want to have his picture taken; that's just the kind of guy he is, and I think that says a lot about it him.
Also, you have to keep in mind, he has over 600 athletes worldwide. So to talk to everyone, in one year, he would have to talk to two a day, you know, so you've just got to keep that in mind, as well.
On occasions like this, I'll probably get a call from him, maybe, maybe not, but I'm in direct contact with his right-hand man on a regular basis.
Q. When you saw Kasey come up behind you, did you feel it was a matter of time; and once he got past you, did you figure he was just going to take off?
BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, you know, I knew he had tires. I was hoping that there would be more cars that stayed out, or those tires would hold him off. Clean aero is huge in these cars, I mean, absolutely huge, but I knew we had a great car. But tires were important, too.
It was tough. You know, when I saw him in my mirror, I wouldn't say it was over, but I knew it was going to be tough. If we could have just stayed in front of him, or got far enough ahead of him to stay in front of him for another five or six laps, I thought the tires would even out and we would hold him off, but he was still too fast and the tires were too good.
The other car, on the other hand, we had such good tires that we could hold him off with the aero advantage.
Q. You led a bunch of laps in Charlotte, and now this finish, and a good finish last week. A.J. was 12th; what's happening at Red Bull that you guys are putting this together?
BRIAN VICKERS: That's a great question. You know, some of it's just time. You can't replace time and experience. Some of it is people, and in this sport, it's all about people.
You know, Jay Frye coming on board, great leadership from the top; it always starts from the top down but there's been a lot of other people. Jay has been a large part of it, but I don't want to give him all the credit. There's a lot of people that have come on board and a lot of great people that are still there from last year that just have not been able do what they wanted to do, or maybe it just wasn't the right time or place or maybe they didn't have the right guidance for leadership from the top.
All around the team is growing and getting better, stronger and better people are coming on board; the people that are that are there are stronger and, as a team we've definitely stepped it up on the engines. I still feel like we have a little ways to go. The Hendrick cars were killing me on restarts. But I'm really proud of those guys. I want to give them credit where credit is due.
Going back a year ago here, how low we were on power; big gains.
Q. Are you watching where you are in points every week as far as Chase possibilities go, and when you're racing Kasey, are you like, "Wow, he's one of the guys who is kind of on the bubble, too?"
BRIAN VICKERS: No, not really. We just try to do the best we can. I keep up with the points. To say that I don't know where we're at in points would not be true.
But you have to be careful chasing points and worrying about that constantly. You just need to focus on each lap one at a time, each race one at a time, and the points will come.
Q. By one position, this is the best finish ever for Red Bull USA, because you were third at Talladega I think. Is there a board down at your shop somewhere saying: "We want to win by a certain date, or this is a track we are going to win at," or do you figure every weekend now you're capable?
BRIAN VICKERS: You know, there's no board in the shop, to answer the question, but I think it's definitely on our mind. We want to win a race and we'd like to win a race this year, and we'd like to be in the Top 15; and hopefully if we can get in the Chase we will. But in the next year, run for a championship, it's kind of our mind-set.
You know, we're kind of on target for that. As far as picking a race, you know, you used to pick races. You had good cars at good tracks, but it's tough to pick races these days. With these cars, you can be 1/16th of a bump stop off and out to lunch. We were legitimately 40th in practice yesterday, two worst practice sessions we had, and after practice we found we were just a few shims away on the bump stops from where we should have been. And today we had one of the fastest cars on the racetrack. It's tough to say we are going to run good here or we're not going to run good here. Really just depends if you're going to hit it or not.
Q. Other than the improvement from practice, was there any particular race strategy that your crew had you following that got you up to running second?
BRIAN VICKERS: You know, we had a really good car but we knew we needed track position. We got out of sequence a little bit, and once we did, we opted for fuel mileage, once we found our window, as did a lot of guys, the 88, 24, a bunch of guys. We played that game. Kind of fell through on us a little bit. We probably would have won the race to be honest with you, because we felt like we had the 88 covered, and he was the next guy behind us on the fuel mileage strategy.
Had the race gone green, you know, potentially we would have been sitting here with a victory; but we didn't, and it is what it is. You know, we did the best we could. Unfortunately the tires got us there at the end with a caution and it is what it is.
Q. With the races where the crew chiefs are on top of the pit box and computer and it's all strategy like this, is that a good thing every once in a while as a driver, or would you rather have just every race in the driver's hands and just one-on-one, whoever has the fastest car?
BRIAN VICKERS: Could you repeat that? Sorry.
Q. What I'm trying to say, some races like this one where there's just so much strategy, and no matter, you could have a fast car, you could have a slow car, but it's a crew chief race and computer race and people are trying to figure out fuel mileage and stuff like that; obviously you had a fast car, would you rather see the race decided like that? Do you like racing like that every once in awhile, just as a driver?
BRIAN VICKERS: You know, it depends if I have the fastest car or not. If you have the fastest car, you would like to finish it straight-up.
You know, when you look at it in the big picture, all right, today, there was a little single file. That's a fact. And aero is a big deal; pit strategy big deal. You have those races occasionally. Pocono tends to have them, and the new car obviously has not helped any. It's made a little of that worse.
In the big picture, like, we are almost spoiled. I mean, our races are so good so often; I mean, I'm a race fan, and any form of racing, and I watch a lot of different racing around the world, and we've still got them beat on a day like today. I mean, I hate to say it, but their races are won every day, every race, by who starts in the pole, who has the best telemetry, who has the best technology, who has the best fuel mileage and this and that and that and that. It's a single-file deal.
For us to have one of those occasionally, doesn't bother me much. Let some strategy win a race here and there. That's a factor. That doesn't bother me.
Q. Brian, what is it about this place that you like that when you come here, of course you haven't gotten a win yet, but you've done very well here; what is it about this place that you like?
BRIAN VICKERS: You know, I like the fact that it's unique; it's fast.
I like the fact that you can't have a perfect race car here. I mean, I've had some great cars here and been driving away from the field, and I've yet to have what I consider a perfect race car, because there's three very unique turns and you're never going to be great in all three of them.
You're going to have to compromise, and as a driver you're going to have to be able to find a groove that works for your car. You're going to have to be able to drive a car loose in one end fast and tight in another end fast and I think it puts the drive a lot into it here at Pocono, and I think I've always enjoyed that, and just the uniqueness of the track and the fact that you have to make a lot of compromises. You can't just have the perfect setup both turns and just haul butt.
Q. Brian, you said you're exhausted, you look awfully hot; Denny, no offense, you look like death warmed over. How hot was it out there? The 500 miles, was that too long for a day like today?
BRIAN VICKERS: Well, I tell you, I hate to see one of my friends and comrades down, but I'm glad to say it, too, but I am about testify fall over and just knowing I'm not the only one makes me feel a little bit better.
It's brutal. These cars, I don't know what we have to do as a sport, but they are --
DENNY HAMLIN: They are hot. They are hotter than the old car, by far.
BRIAN VICKERS: Oh, double and away, they are too hot. And NASCAR, and the problem is it's a team and competition and we want to keep the cars light and go fast but we're killing ourselves. We're going to the infield care center off the races and that's ridiculous. NASCAR needs to step in and say we have to do something to cool these cars down and help us. It is extremely freaking hot out there.
And to answer your question, absolutely, 500 miles is way too long for this race. It always has been, and I love Pocono. You know, I enjoy coming here for all the reasons I just told you, but there's no reason to run 500 miles.
DENNY HAMLIN: Yeah, I agree. Even the first time we got in these cars, I think me and Brian were at the very first test, at Charlotte, and it was just too hot. I mean, I don't know what the temperature inside the car is, the difference, but these cars are way hotter than the old car. The ventilation is not near as good, even though we have a bigger window, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it just does. I just think the way that the exhaust runs; the way that the exhaust has to run in the car, it's closer to the floor pane, and that's going to make the car hotter itself.
So, yeah, I mean, it's just -- this is the longest race I think I've ever been a part of, for sure. It just seemed like it took forever, and a lot of the reason is we never run 500 miles where the average speed is 155 miles an hour while you're running.
If we run 500 miles, it's Atlanta where we are running the average speed of 180, so the race doesn't take near as long. Here, the pace is so slow, once the car is loose, it just takes forever. It's tough on us drivers.
I was glad I wasn't the only one, either. I saw Brian and even Junior needed a second to breathe. It's just tough. We're trying as drivers to do everything we can to stay hide rated but these cars are just way too hot.
KERRY THARP: Your overall thoughts on the race and how you came out?
DENNY HAMLIN: We had a race-winning car for one run and that was about it. We had a second, third place car for most of the day, and that's where we winded up. Had a little bit of brake fade there at the end. I got through Brian, but as soon as I did, he pulled down right into my lane and that's just -- I mean, the aero here is just tremendous.
Indy is going to be a handful. I don't know how anybody is going to make a pass at Indianapolis. Just with the flat turns like this, these cars with no front downforce, it's just going to be hard to pass.
There was a few passes. The race at the end, which was good, for the racing, but just as a driver, it was a little frustrating.
Q. Before the race there was a lot of talk about the repaving between turns two and three, was that much of an issue today?
DENNY HAMLIN: Just when you would get a big run on a guy, everybody would try to crowd down there and take that lane away from you. It did make it interesting at times. I did see the 16 and myself were able to pull off a couple slide jobs in turn three which I'm surprised didn't end up in any wrecks. It's interesting. It adds another element, I guess you could say, to the racetrack. It's unique, for sure, to have a fast lane way up there like that, and then have an option to go way low if you have to. So I like it okay.
Q. Today's race it seemed like it was just back and forth, pit strategy, crew chiefs, computers, fuel mileage, all that stuff; do you like that every once in awhile or would you rather have every race straight-up, from a driver's perspective?
DENNY HAMLIN: No, I would rather the best car win every week, but that will never happen. You know, we're usually on the bad end of what you could call the strategy-type races. Mike did an excellent job getting us back when we had to go back to 40th or so to get us back that track position, but it was tough at times. Every time we pit, you know, some guys would stay out. Some guys would take two tires, four tires, which was interesting, because I think that's the only reason you had the passing that you did is if everyone came in and took four fires today, there would be a limited amount of passing out there.
So with the cars that stayed out and the guys that took two or whatnot that were up front and were a little bit slower than the guys that took four, that's where you were able to see the passing and that's really the only time you did see it.
Q. You obviously had a pretty good year as a rookie here when you won both, but today, the rookies struggled. What's different about this track that makes it harder on rookies, do you think?
DENNY HAMLIN: I really don't know. I think it's just more car stuff than anything. I think, you know, we were blessed with a really good car when I came here. So it really made my job easy.
As a rookie, I don't know where anybody else -- you know, Carl Edwards did real good his first time, so I really don't think that there's any kind of significance to these rookies not running as well as ones in the past.
Q. You talk about the heat, obviously it was going to be bad today; was there anything different you could do, changing the cooling system or dump more ice in the car or pit stops; did you try to do anything to combat it from a different way today?
DENNY HAMLIN: No, it was a lot like Texas. It wasn't as bad, of course, when I got out of the car. I was able to stand on my own two feet. But it was just -- it doesn't hit you till you get vertical for some reason, when you're in that race car and you're sitting down, I mean, do you notice you start cramping up a little bit, but as soon as you get vertical outside of that race car, it just seems like all the blood comes from it, it leaves your head and goes somewhere else.
You know, I definitely needed to sit down right there, everyone did, it looked like. So I don't know, it just was a grueling race. This one's a real long one anyway. The temperatures were hot, and we didn't have that good of cooling inside of our race car. The AC worked fine, but we don't have any kind of driver fans or anything, which is something we need to probably look into in the future.
KERRY THARP: Great effort out there today. We'll see you next week.
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