By admin | February 28, 2008
2008 Looking Much Better for Vickers
By Richard Allen
Brian Vickers won the 2003 Nationwide(Busch) Series championship driving for powerful Hendrick Motorsports. He was then set to make a splash in the Sprint Cup Series for the Chevrolet team in 2004. It looked like there was nothing but success ahead for the Thomasville, North Carolina driver.
However, something went wrong along the way. The wins and championships never came like they were supposed to. As a matter of fact, his only win with HMS came at Talladega in the Fall of 2006 after it was already known he would not be returning to that team the next season. Even that one win was somewhat tainted, especially at HMS, because of a late race crash which took out Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson.
In 2007 Vickers moved to NASCAR newcomer Team Red Bull to drive their Toyotas. His season mirrored the disaster that was Toyota Racing in the foreign manufacturer’s first year of Sprint Cup competition.
Vickers got off to a poor start by missing the season opening Daytona 500 in 2007. He rebounded with a solid 10th place finish in California the following week only to miss the season’s third race in Las Vegas. Those early missed races put the #83 team in a hole they were never able to dig out of. The Team Red Bull Racing entry missed a total of 13 races last year.
So far, 2008 has gotten off to a much better start for the 24 year old driver. Not only did he qualify for the Daytona 500, he finished in a respectable 12th place. He then followed that up with another good run at the California Speedway, grabbing 11th place in the rain plagued event.
He had been allowed to make the field in California because of a NASCAR rule which allows the most recent race winners not already in the Top 35 of the point standings to make the race when qualifying has to be cancelled. Remember that for the first five races of a new season NASCAR uses the Top 35 point standing from the previous year. Vickers was able to take advantage of that rule and propel himself to the 11th position of this season point totals with his good finish.
No doubt, Brian Vickers has to be feeling better about where he is now as opposed to where he was a year ago. That will especially hold true if he puts together a strong qualifying run for the UAW-Dodge 400 and the following two races.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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