NASCAR Media Conference
January 31, 2006
THE MODERATOR: Want to thank Greg and Carl for coming in. Thanks, guys, for being here. We also have Brian Vickers, driver of the GMAC Chevrolet. Brian, first off, this is I think your first time back in the car this year. You had a little surgery a couple of weeks ago, talk about how your feeling and just getting back in the seat.
BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, I'm definitely feeling a lot better. If you asked me last Monday or Tuesday whether I would be in the car the whole two days, it would definitely have been questionable. I was pretty concerned. The first week, the healing process was pretty slow, but then it took leaps and bounds after that. Still a little tender here and there, getting in and out of the car, but once I'm in the car, I feel pretty good. I feel real good.
THE MODERATOR: Being here in Las Vegas, both Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson both have a win here, Kyle finished second in the Cup race, does that give you some confidence going in or put a little pressure on you going into this year's race.
BRIAN VICKERS: I think it's confidence that the Hendrick Motorsports teams have run pretty good here. For the first time -- a lot of you guys were at the media conference, and for the first time ever Hendrick Motorsports, I feel and so did Rick and everybody in the complex that all of the teams are in equal positions. You know, last year was the first step in the process to putting everybody and bringing everyone together and on the same playing field, but it wasn't going to happen overnight. It took a year for all of that to take place and we are finally where we need to be.
Q. There's a large rookie crop this year, you're not that far removed from your first year, what kind of pressure are they going to be under and what kind of advice can you give those guys?
BRIAN VICKERS: Well, they are definitely going to have pressure and stuff. You know, from my experience, the majority of the pressure you have is as much as you put on yourself is probably the worst of it, especially being a rookie. They are going to have to just be patient and they are going to make mistakes. They are going to have drivers that don't remember when they were rookies and are going to be really, really hard on them when they make mistakes; and they are going to have drivers that do remember when they were rookies and get on to them, but at the same time, they are going to try to help them so they can get better. You know, you're just going to have to deal with it. You do the best you can, be patient and just try to make it to the end of every race. The more laps you're out there, the more you're going to learn.
Q. How did you spend your time off during the winter? Did it just go by really quickly or could you not wait to get back to the car or decide, "I'm taking some time off and getting away from things?"
BRIAN VICKERS: Well, I always try to take as much time off as I can. I think you're just that much better when you get back. Now at the same time, I'm happy to be back in the car. It was good to be back in the car this week, especially after missing Daytona test. The off-season is something that I've always tried to get away and spend with my family over Christmas and travel some and just really get away and relax. Then I try to put more emphasis on it now than ever because of the demanding schedule and being in the Cup series and things I've learned from my teammates like Jeff and Jimmie and their experience with that. So I guess to more directly answer your question, after I spent a couple of days in Miami and spent some time in New York and then I went to spend the holiday season in Charlotte (ph) with my family which is always a standard, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else for Christmas. Then for New Year's, I was in Brazil, and it was a beautiful place, a lot of fun. I went there with some friends from home and some friends from there, a couple friends from there that was a huge benefit. Would have been lost without them. Then we went to -- where did I go off that? Just kind of bounced around a lot. I was in and out of the shop. I was supposed to have my surgery on the 3rd when I got back from New Year's, but I had strep throat, so they pushed me back to the 16th. And kind of, like I said, I was in and out of the shop, team meetings, Christmas parties here and there for the shop. Back and forth between Charlotte and New York, mainly.
Q. Last week Rick Hendrick said he wanted all four teams in the Chase, what is your team going to have to improve your standings, climb up in the points standings?
BRIAN VICKERS: I think we just have to continue to do where we left off last year. The last couple of races we had a couple things go wrong, but for the most part the second half of the season for several months in a row, not sure of the exact dates, but for a long time we accumulated the second most points of anybody in the series; so for a pretty good stretch there. So if we can just do that, we'll be in more than -- we'll have more than enough points and we'll be in plenty of good shape to accomplish that goal. We've just got to start off better. At the beginning of the season last year is what really killed us. We knew it was coming, we knew it was going to be a hard time, we didn't have any new cars, the cars we had were not what they needed to be but you just cannot change everything overnight. This year we are starting out in a lot better position.
THE MODERATOR: Brian, thanks.
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