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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Chevy Rock & Roll 400

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Chevy Rock & Roll 400

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Chevy Rock & Roll 400

Brian Vickers
September 12, 2009


KERRY THARP: We are joined at the podium by Brian Vickers who drives the number 83 Red Bull Toyota. Congratulations on racing your way into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. How does it feel?
BRIAN VICKERS: Feels pretty damn awesome to be honest with you. I don't know if I was supposed to say that, sorry.
KERRY THARP: That's a great quote.
BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, it feels good. It still has not sunk in to be honest with you, probably. I suspect it will probably 4:00 AM, 5:00 AM, somewhere around in there.
You know, just the past ten races, the past couple months, I can't say enough about this entire Red Bull Toyota crew. The engines have been fantastic. The crew has been good. The cars have been awesome. The pit stops have been so much better.
You know, we have had a little bit of luck on our side. We have had some great races. We've had a string of just amazing finishes in races. You know, last week in Atlanta.
Tonight was a great racetrack and it was one of best cars I've ever had here tonight, one of our best finishes. Would have been better if it weren't for that last caution but that's okay. You look at so many races, Atlanta, ran as good as we were, break an axle there, and that is a perfect example of determination by this team and how talented they are to change an axle without losing a lap was incredible. And you know, we paid off. We kept talking about it this past week, the media were asking me about it and how amazing it was, and it was. But you still didn't know if it made the difference or not until the end of the race tonight, and sure enough, it did. You know, without that -- without us doing that, or the team accomplishing that last week, we would not be in this position this week.

Q. Your team has really grown all year long and got momentum and got momentum and you got to this point today. Do you have anything left in the tank now to go for the next ten races that give the Hendrick teams a real good shot?
BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, I think we do. I guess the Chase is about who can be the best for ten races. That's the bottom line.
And the past ten races, I don't know the exact statistics, but several people have told me this, we were one of the best, if not the best teams, collected the most points, in essence, the past ten weeks; and it wasn't the most, make it was second-most or tide or something.
Nevertheless, to me that proves to us and to everyone, what the team is capable of doing. You know, we have done it for the past ten weeks. There's no reason we can't do it for the next ten weeks. It doesn't mean we will. That's a big hill to climb. There's a lot of challenging -- there's a lot of challenging teams in this Chase, very competitive teams, talented drivers, teams. So we have got a big road ahead of us.
But are we capable of it, absolutely. I think we have proven that. It doesn't mean that we will. We have still got a lot of work ahead of us.

Q. A few weeks ago, the way you kind of were talking about you and Kyle and the stuff going on, people were saying you were questioning your commitment or your passion, not how you meant it but it came out that way; do you feel that what you've done on the racetrack has sort of proved that your passion is legitimate?
I'm not sure what you're referencing. I don't really remember the incident, that being the end result. I think it was more people were questioning the other half of the situation, or involvement.
But hypothetically speaking, let's just say that that was your feelings.
I mean, I'd like to think so. You know, would I like to think that the past several weeks, the past ten weeks has proven what this team is capable of, the commitment, my personal commitment and the commitment of this team and everybody involved. You know, no one gave up. Everyone stayed calm. Everyone put forward 100%, and it paid off. You know, everybody's -- one thing I want to say. I said it out there on the front straightaway and I shook Kyle's hand when we got in, it's no secret that him and I don't always see eye-to-eye and don't always get along and we had our scuffle at Michigan. But I have to say the past two weeks, we raced really hard, but very clean. You know, my side and on his side. He raced me hard and clean and I returned the favor, vice versa, that was the past couple of weeks. Maybe we'll be fine and maybe we won't. But we have been fine the past couple of weeks, we really did, we raced hard and clean.
As far as the level of commitment I give 100%, my personality is different than his like his is different than Jeff Gordon's. We all give 100% maybe in a different way, but mine is probably different than his.

Q. You come into this race and you are right there, but you're at a track where you have a really tough record, and I'm sure that based on your background, that you knew how to do this, but with one race and this riding on it, what extent did your team go to to try to shore up your performance at this track? How much of a specific effort whether by engineering or assistance from people, what did you do to get things straightened out at this track?
BRIAN VICKERS: Well, we definitely changed our approach to the set up in the car. I'm not going to give you any details of that, of course.
You know, we laid it out in the spring race. We found a balance and we found something that I was looking for in the car and what I needed to go fast here, and the qualifying package and on the short-run package, even the race. We led the first 15, 20 laps of the race and had an unbelievable car in the short run. We knew what it took. We knew what we needed to have to have a fast car here in qualifying. The problem we had was that package had just really went away in the long run, so was trying to find a balance, trying to find that package to last as long as we could throughout a race run, and that's pretty much where the guys were working. That's pretty much what the engineers worked on was taking what we knew worked and just making it work longer, work longer in race trim.
We basically worked out two scenarios, two different packages, I guess could you say this past week, the engineering staff did, everybody, Red Bull, Ryan. We started with the one we thought had the most potential and turned out it was frankly not good at all. We were horrible when we unloaded. We were like 38th on the board or 36th or something the first practice. And we tried about three runs to fix it and we immediately abandoned it and went straight to another package which showed more promise in certain areas but less in others.
So really it wasn't one package or another we thought was definitely going to be better but we jumped on it and the car immediately came to life. I really liked the feel of it. And at that point, we were just trying to work the tightness in there and we pretty much spent the rest of practice doing that. Felt really good the race trim at the end of practice and put the same qualifying package we had on the car in the spring back in it, we qualified six, probably could have been better if we had got it in there sooner and had time to tune for the racetrack this weekend but it was a last minute throw-it-together because we were not happy with our racing.
I don't know how many hours the guys spent, just beating their heads against the wall trying to figure out what we need do to make our short track better. Obviously our performance in what we learned in the spring race contributed tremendously to us being better in this race. It wasn't like we threw stuff against the wall and it stuck. We knew what worked and tried to make it better. The guys did it. Congratulations to them because if it wasn't for that, obviously we would not be in the Chase.
This is the best car we have ever had here and feel like we can make it a little bit better and there were times this week where we were Top 3 or Top 2 or first-place capable car. Really proud of that effort. I think that last caution came out and maybe we had a shot at the Top 3, but we accomplished our goal tonight.

Q. After the caution, you said to your spotter -- who is your spotter, Chris somebody? What's his last name?
BRIAN VICKERS: What did I say to him?

Q. What's Chris's last name, first.
BRIAN VICKERS: Chris Lambert.

Q. You said to him, "Any friends you can make aware of our situation, I would appreciate it." Who were the friends at that point and who were the friends that you mentioned before that?
BRIAN VICKERS: Any of them. Any of the 42 that he could get ahold of.
Obviously the one team that we had was, had some damage, so there's no guarantees from anybody. You know, obviously you all have friends on the racetrack, but you know, Jeff worked -- he works me hard. He didn't give me anything to be honest with you, but he did -- once I got to him, he kind of cut me some slack. Just anybody that could help us out. It wasn't really anyone in particular. You know, you made reference about Jimmie and Jeff ganging up on Kyle, I think it was you, made reference to Kyle about that. Jimmie didn't cut me any slack either. If he was ganging up on Kyle he was ganging up on me. He actually ran me across the apron a couple of times. I don't think there was anybody out there tonight that was any more on my side than anybody else's, but it never hurts to ask, I guess.
My question to Chris wasn't really directed at anyone in particular. Just anyone he could get ahold of.

Q. You've had a very narrow focus the last few weeks of cracking the Top-12 but what's it going to be like to recalibrate now and do you feel like you have a legitimate shot at bringing home the championship?
BRIAN VICKERS: You know, my focus right now is going to be like where I'm going out tonight.
GREG BIFFLE: You and me both.
BRIAN VICKERS: Right now my focus is to move on from the last ten weeks. It's been a stressful period of my life but just proud of the effort. I genuinely mean that, I'm genuinely going to party hard tonight, I'm not kidding. Next week the focus is to move on and win the championship. Like we stated earlier, it's going to be different, but it's not. The past, basically, we had ten weeks, to get into this Chase. And you know, we performed as good or better than any other team out there the past ten weeks and that's what got us in the Chase.
Now we have just got to go do the exact same thing again the next ten weeks and if we can do that, we can win the championship and if we don't, we won't.
KERRY THARP: Brian, thank you and again congratulations for racing your way into the Chase. Congratulations.

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