NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Brickyard 400
Topics: Brickyard 400
August 7, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Now joining us, the highest qualifying rookie, Raybestos Rookie in the Brickyard 400. Qualified in the No. 6 position, Brian Vickers in the No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet. Not only qualified at 184.665, but he was one of the six drivers who broke the track record. Congratulations on not only being amongst those who broke last year's track record but also qualifying top six, top rookie. Take us through your qualifying.
BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, I appreciate it. The GMAC Chevy team, all the guys did a good job all week throughout testing. We had a really good car. We entered practice a little tight - actually real tight. We made a lot of changes to help fix that. We got most of it fixed, but we were still just a little too tight to sit on the pole for the Indianapolis 400, Brickyard 400. But it was, you know, it was still a solid run for us. To come out and be the top Raybestos Rookie qualifier is really a pretty cool honor, especially here at Indianapolis. It's a neat track. It has a lot of history to it. You know, I've had a blast coming up here and being out there on the speedway and everything. It's one of those deals where it's so much that it's not really even going to hit you till the week after, I think.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously coming into a track like this, you want to make a good impression, you want your sponsors to be excited. But did you think you were going to be able to put a track record qualifying effort together? Also, starting where you did, when you did qualify, early cars in the qualifying realm had a bit of an advantage. Did you still feel that you guys were going to be able to put out that kind of performance this morning?
BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, you know, the team has really done a good job from the very start with qualifying. They've done a good job with -- you know, we've gotten better as the year's gone on and everything, not just qualifying, but also in the race trim. I knew we had a shot at it. You know, I felt like we even had a shot at the pole if everything went right, if we had a good draw, and the situation was right, and the car was just right. And, you know, everything was pretty close, but not just enough. You know, I think in every little category, we missed just a little bit. But that's part of it. You know, we'll learn from it, we'll come back next time. But still we're very happy with a Top 10 start. It will be good for the race and, you know, give us a good pit box as well along with a lot of other things.
THE MODERATOR: Even qualified ahead of a couple teammates named Gordon and Johnson, which is pretty cool, too. Questions for Brian Vickers.
Q. Funny you should ask about Gordon and Johnson because they both wanted a Top 10. Both said out on the grid that they were both hoping for a Top 10. You beat both of them. When you look at that, what are your thoughts? They said you felt like a kid in a candy store just being here this weekend, now here you beat both of them. Gordon of course is so good here. What do you think about that?
BRIAN VICKERS: It's a pretty neat experience, you know, to be here. And I have been like a kid in the candy store, to be here, period. I came here so many times, whether it be for, you know, NASCAR stuff, IndyCar, Formula 1 stuff. I've always had a lot of respect for the racetrack, and also for my teammates, as well. To beat them in qualifying is always a lot of fun. You know, I look at my teammates like brothers. You know, you help each other. I help them and they help me in any way possible. But at the end of the day, you know, we still want to beat each other. You know, it means a lot. You know, Jeff is obviously one of the best drivers out there - if not the best on the circuit right now. You know, he's obviously probably the best at this track, you know, if you look back at track record. So that's pretty neat. Now we just got to do it again on Sunday.
Q. Brian, typically Atlanta Motor Speedway is considered the fastest track on the circuit. This looked, if not as fast, faster today. Describe what it's like to go that fast around a track that doesn't have the banking to really help you like Atlanta.
BRIAN VICKERS: It's a neat experience. You know, to go -- to be traveling that fast, period, it's something that not many people will have the opportunity to do. You know, I'm fortunate to be able to do it every weekend. I love it. This track, you know, to do it here I think is even more impressive because of how flat the racetrack is. It's amazing how much banking helps our cars. You know, an IndyCar is different. They've got so much downforce already. We need all the help we can get. Plus like Atlanta, Texas, with a lot of banking, makes a tremendous difference. To be able to come here and run as fast as we do is pretty neat. And today I think you really saw, you know, the track conditions were great and the cars, the teams in general, are just getting better and better every week and every year. And that's why the speeds keep going up. But like you said, for this track to be as flat as it is, to go that fast off into a turn, it's a pretty neat experience.
Q. Being a rookie here the first year and running at this race, as big as it is, as much attrition as you see in this event, what is your strategy for this thing? Do you pick a driver like a Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, set behind them, get a feel for the track, get your pace going? What do you do for this race?
BRIAN VICKERS: You know, it's probably not much different than most races. You know, there's some situations where you want to fall in behind a veteran driver and try to, you know, learn a lot. And I think that's always the case to a point. But at a place like this, you can't ride behind somebody too close for very long or you're going to get extremely tight, and then you're going to start going backwards. When you get to them, you got to pass them or you got to let them get some distance on them so you can get some good air on your car or you will eventually build up too much air pressure in the right front tire and cause problems. I think right now our focus is on practice, to get the car the best we can, and to get it turning good, to get it turning good in traffic, and then to getting clear air come Sunday, get to the front as soon as possible, at least maintain where we are until the pit stops. You know, I think we saw it last week at Pocono, you know, just track position means a lot. It always does no matter what series or what form of racing you're in, and no matter what track you are. I think track position always means a lot. But at this track in particular, it's going to mean that much more.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Excellent effort.
BRIAN VICKERS: Thank you.
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