Tag:Brian Vickers
Posted on: March 8, 2012 6:18 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 7:34 pm

Brian Vickers to drive Waltrip's No. 55 car

By Pete Pistone

Elliott Sadler's inability to drive Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 55 car for five races has opened the door for Brian Vickers to get an opportunity.

Vickers will pilot the entry in the six events as an addition to the car's schedule for Mark Martin and Waltrip.

Sadler was named as the team's choice to fill the seat last week but withdrew after team owner Richard Childress felt it necessary to have the driver concentrate on his full-time Nationwide Series effort for RCR.

Vickers has been without a ride since the Red Bull Racing team shut its doors at season's end. He'll have an opportunity to drive a car that Martin has gotten off to a good start with this season running competitively at both Daytona and Phoenix.

“I am thrilled to get back behind the wheel of not just a race car, but a very fast race car,” said Vickers. 

“I’m lucky to find a ride of this quality so early in the season. That Toyota won the pole last weekend in Phoenix and you saw it up front throughout the race. I know how good (crew chief) Rodney Childers and team are. I’ve known Rodney since I was eight years old. This car is tied for sixth in points right now. This is going to be fun. I appreciate the opportunity Michael and the entire MWR organization are giving me.” 

Vickers will begin his schedule next Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway and Waltrip is excited to get his new driver behind the wheel.

“Brian Vickers is a veteran driver with almost 10 years experience, but he hasn’t even turned 30 yet,” said Waltrip. 

“He’s shown he can win at this level and we have every confidence he’ll run well with us. I believe in second chances and this is great opportunity for us and Brian. He wants to show the world how good he really is and we believe in the equipment and people we’re putting him with in 2012.”

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Posted on: December 26, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 5:19 pm

Team Review/Preview: Red Bull Racing

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Kahne's November win at Phoenix was bittersweet as Team Red Bull shut down less than two weeks later)


Nobody knew it when the season began, but 2011 turned out to be a swan song for Red Bull Racing. 

The energy drink giant, which served as both owner and sponsor of the two-car Sprint Cup team since its inception, decided to pull out of NASCAR and end its foray in big time stock car racing. 

Although that news didn’t officially come until near midseason, it had a tremendous impact on the organization, and general manager Jay Frye was charged with the daunting task of trying to field a competitive team while at the same time searching for investors to keep the doors open after 2011. 

As the behind the scenes drama unfolded the scenes drama unfolded the on-track product was a mixed bag between drivers Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers

Kahne, who came to the team on a one-year deal before moving to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, was a pleasant surprise. Kahne and long-time crew chief Kenny Francis were a formidable combination and turned in an impressive campaign that included eight top five and 15 top 10 finishes topped by a November trip to Victory Lane at Phoenix International Raceway. 

The win was bittersweet as it came ahead of the news that Red Bull would be shuttered for good in a matter of days. 

“I wouldn't say there's anyone out there that's building better cars at this time,” Kahne said in Victory Lane. “The Red Bull guys are doing an awesome job and they haven't given up.

“It's tough to hear ... it's shutting down in eight days. Over the last three months, you have one of the top five cars in NASCAR shutting down, and that's crazy. I think it's just the people. They haven't given up. They're doing a great job. We've been able to stay focused.”

Although Kahne failed to make the Chase, he was especially strong during the playoff portion of the schedule with seven top 10 runs in the final 10 races of the season. 

“Things started to click for sure and it’s because of the hard work by everybody inside the race team,” Kahne said. “Everyone was working under difficult conditions not knowing what the future held and that made what we were able to accomplish that much more impressive in my mind. I can’t thank everyone enough for their dedication.” 

While Kahne and Francis were building momentum together before their move to Hendrick next season, teammate Brian Vickers was the center of controversy. 

Vickers struggled throughout the season, scoring three top five finishes but ending up 28th in the final Sprint Cup standings. 

His troubles began in late June was he was involved in a pair of on track scuffles with Tony Stewart at Infineon Raceway, and things got worse from there. 

Vickers mustered only a pair of finishes better then 10th after the trip to Sonoma and found himself in a nasty feud with Matt Kenseth as the season wound down. 

Vickers and Kenseth tangled several times in the October Martinsville race, which ended in the pair intentionally paying each other back in the closing laps. 

The race featured 18 caution flags with Vickers part of five yellows. 

"I certainly understand that if you're unfairly wrecked, regardless of who that person is, there's a chance retaliation is going to happen," Jimmie Johnson said after getting swept up in the Vickers retaliation to Kenseth in the final laps. "After a fourth, fifth time with the same car in the crash, you start thinking about maybe you're the problem. Something is going on. You're having a bad day. You need to stop crashing for whatever reason." 

Things boiled over two weeks later at Phoenix when Vickers made contact with Kenseth’s car as the duo raced through Turn 3. 

Kenseth was sure the incident was intentional. 

“You have someone that has been telling everybody for four or five weeks that as soon as he got a chance at a fast race track he was going to make it hurt and wipe us out and they do nothing about it. It was so premeditated it just surprises me that they didn’t do anything,” Kenseth said in the aftermath of NASCAR not penalizing Vickers for the move. 

Vickers denied doing anything wrong.

“He just lifted halfway down the backstretch,” Vickers said. “I was planning on paying him back, but he just lifted halfway down the backstretch. He just stopped. I don't know why. If he wants to doubt us, that's fine.”


Despite the effort by Frye, news of the team’s official demise came just days after the season ended in Homestead.

Frye had hoped to find new owners to remain in business and then bring in sponsors but was unsuccessful on both counts and the Sprint Cup garage will shrink by two full-time entries in 2012.

“It’s a very tough thing to deal with,” said Frye, who was forced to watch the 5-year-old team close its doors. “We had some success but in the end the business just wasn’t able to sustain itself when Red Bull decided to change direction. I’m sad but at the same time proud of what the people inside this organization were able to accomplish.”

Kahne is off to Hendrick next season while Vickers' name has not been associated with any ride for 2012.


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Posted on: November 15, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 10:48 am

Idle Thoughts: Paybacks out of control

By Pete Pistone

The 2011 NASCAR season is one race away from going into the record book. All three of the sanctioning body’s top divisions have featured tight championship battles going down to the wire but none closer than the three points separating Cart Edwards from Tony Stewart in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But when the Cup champion is finally crowned in Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway it might be the second most memorable story of the season.

Unfortunately a year marred by a series of intentional paybacks and retaliation is what 2011 may be most remembered for producing.

The “Boys Have at It” era reached yet another low last Sunday in Phoenix when Brian Vickers purposely put Matt Kenseth into the wall as an obvious carryover from their feud at Martinsville two weeks earlier.

Kenseth said he knew it was coming because Vickers had told people all week he planned to extract more revenge for the duo’s several tangles at Martinsville. Vickers denied the accusation saying Kenseth does still have one coming except what happened at Phoenix wasn’t it.

"I wasn't planning on paying him back," Vickers said. "He wrecked me at Martinsville; he got wrecked here. I'm not saying I wasn't going to pay him back; I'm just saying that wasn't it." 

NASCAR saw it as a “racing incident” and did nothing to punish Vickers chalking it up to just two drivers competing for the same piece of real estate. 

But only a week earlier, the sanctioning body came down with a mighty blow on Kyle Busch for his intentional wrecking of Ron Hornaday in a Texas Motor Speedway truck race. Busch got parked for the remainder of the weekend’s races at TMS including Sunday’s Sprint Cup main event and was also fined $50,000 while being placed on probation until the end of the season. Busch’s problems continued through the following days when sponsors pulled out of agreements and team owner Joe Gibbs lowered the boom internally with disciplinary actions. 

All of which begs the question of what the difference was between what Busch did and how Vickers behaved on Sunday. 

It’s true that Busch’s actions took place well under caution and that certainly made it a much more egregious affair in the eyes of NASCAR. Insubordination is not a favorite display of behavior of the sanctioning body. 

But other than that it’s hard to make a case for Vickers at least not being parked for the remainder of the Phoenix race, as Busch was initially in the aftermath of the Texas tangle. 

The inconsistent enforcement in any of these cases has seriously impacted NASCAR’s credibility once again.

The intent of “Boys Have at It” was simple – to allow drivers to race each other hard and not worry about NASCAR stepping in and overly officiate races. 

Fans had cried for the return of “rubbin’ is racin” for years and when NASCAR decided to relax its grip the hope was to increase the level of competition and excitement. 

But now two years later the creed has turned things into a free for all and created an environment more in line with “wreckin’ is racin’,” which it is absolutely not. 

From the moment Carl Edwards flipped Brad Keselowski in a payback move at Atlanta in 2010, the Pandora’s Box was ripped wide open. NASCAR’s mild reaction of basically just probation for Edwards’ act set the bar for how this Wild West environment would be tolerated. 

It led to a multitude of intentional paybacks and retaliatory moves that weren’t limited to just the Sprint Cup Series but included ugly incidents in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Time and again NASCAR turned its head and refused to make any kind of call for even the most flagrant of fouls. 

And although there was supposedly some kind of line drawn after Busch’s actions in Texas, Sunday’s move by Vickers clearly demonstrates payback crashing is still very much an accepted form of behavior. 

It has to stop and immediately is not soon enough. 

NASCAR has to step up and do what major league professional sports leagues are supposed to do, govern their events and make the tough calls. Simply sitting back and letting drivers police themselves is not doing anything but giving every race the potential to turn into a county fair demolition derby rather than a big league auto racing event. 

It’s ironic that weekly short track officials around the country have less tolerance for the kind of behavior that many of the supposed best drivers in the world have been demonstrating. Any of the blatant spin outs or wrecks that have occurred across NASCAR’s top three divisions in the last two years would have resulted in a short track driver being parked or banned more often than not. 

But in NASCAR today it’s not penalized but rather encouraged. 

The off season is right around the corner and there will be plenty of time for NASCAR officials to discuss how to reign in this embarrassing behavior and provide some sanity to the sport.

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Posted on: November 13, 2011 9:54 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 10:15 pm

Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers "have at it" again

By Pete Pistone

AVONDALE, Ariz. - The bad blood between Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers that boiled over in Martinsville two weeks ago hasn't gone away.

Depending on who you ask.

Vickers and Kenseth made contact in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in an incident the Roush Fenway Racing driver is sure was another payback.

"Obviously, it is retaliation for retaliation, I guess,'' said Kenseth, who insisted Vickers was telling people all week he planned on settling a score with a payback. "I was out of brakes and I was up on everybody and I saw him coming and I lifted at least 10 car lengths before where I normally would lift, and he drove in there at 165 miles per hour and cleaned us out.

"You have someone that has been telling everybody for four or five weeks that as soon as he got a chance at a fast racetrack, he was going to make it hurt and wipe us out. And they do nothing about it. It was so premeditated. It just surprises me that (NASCAR) didn't do anything."

NASCAR didn't agree with Kenseth's view of the situation and issued this statement after the race:

"Had we felt it was more than a racing incident, we would have reacted."

Vickers reportedly first admitted it was a payback but later had a different explanation.

"I don't know what happened," Vickers told the Associated Press. "He just lifted halfway down the backstretch. I was planning on paying him back, but he just lifted halfway down the backstretch. He just stopped. I don't know why.

"If he wants to doubt us, that's fine. He wrecked me at Martinsville, he got wrecked here, but it actually wasn't (payback). I'm not saying I wasn't going to pay him back, but I'm just saying that wasn't it."

The altercation again puts into question NASCAR's controversial "Boys Have at It" policy and how the sanctioning body does or does not enforce those guidelines.

Kenseth believes there's no room for such behavior at the highest level of stock car racing.

"We aren't racing street stocks at a quarter-mile track," Kenseth said, "so they need to figure out how to get the drivers to settle their differences in a different way and talk about it or figure it out or do something instead of using your car as a battering ram somewhere this fast." 

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:31 am

Video of the Day: Kenseth, Vickers tangle

Posted by Pete Pistone

Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers engaged in a couple of spats during Sunday's TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway:

Posted on: October 4, 2011 3:50 pm

Brian Vickers replaces Reed Sorenson at Turner

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (October 4, 2011) -Turner Motorsports announced today that Brian Vickers will assume driving duties of the No. 32 Dollar General Chevy, beginning this weekend at Kansas Speedway. Vickers, the 2003 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion, who has a long-standing relationship with the team, will also get behind the wheel for the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver for the remaining 2011 races will be announced at a later date.

"We are continuing to evaluate our racing program as we look to the 2012 season," said team owner Steve Turner. "Brian Vickers is a proven winner at NASCAR's highest level in addition to being a driver at Turner Motorsports over the last four seasons.   He has worked with Trent Owens in the past which will allow us to immediately focus on the task at hand. We are confident Brian can help assess where we are, as a company currently, and the direction we are going as we build our programs for 2012 and beyond."

Vickers previously competed in the Nationwide Series for Turner Motorsports on a part-time basis from 2007-2010. In 41 starts, Vickers compiled 15 top-five and 28 top-10 finishes along with three pole awards. Vickers has made four Nationwide Series starts at Kansas Speedway, notching one top-10 finish back in 2007 while driving the No. 10 entry for Turner Motorsports. 

"I can't thank everyone at Dollar General and Turner Motorsports enough for this opportunity," said Vickers. "They have been so supportive of me both personally and professionally over the past few years, and it's great to continue this relationship for a few more races. I am looking forward to driving this new Nationwide Series car with Trent and the guys behind me!"

The No. 32 team remains under the leadership of Trent Owens, the same crew chief Vickers worked with during the majority of his time at Turner Motorsports.

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Posted on: September 24, 2011 9:13 am

Red Bull future looks bleak

By Pete Pistone

The future of Team Red Bull is looking extremely dire as team officials continue to search for investors to keep the organization afloat after this season.

Parent company Red Bull announced its intention to leave NASCAR at least from an ownership capacity earlier this year, leaving general manager Jay Frye the daunting task of finding replacement owners and finances. 

The situation took a turn for the worse this week when Red Bull filed a notice as part of North Carolina's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act that it expects to layoff more than 150 employees by Dec. 17, 2011. 

Frye has so far been unsuccessful uncovering investors to save the beleagured operation, which fields the two car tandem of Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers in the Sprint Cup Series. 

Former open wheel star Jacque Villeneuve was recently attached as part of a potential new ownership group, but as of now nothing concrete has materialized from those discussions. 

While Kahne’s future is set with Hendrick Motorsports next season, Vickers has not been associated with another ride and his future is very much up in the air.

“Every day I show up to the race track, my job is to go win,” Vickers said last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. “I don’t believe those situations change anything. If Red Bull was staying three more years and I was planning on being in the car, I’d still want to come here and win the race.

“That would still be my job whether they’re staying or not. At this level of the sport, there’s always pressure to perform. My job and the job of this team is to go out and win the race. If we do that, that’s the best thing we can do for all of our situations.”

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Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:48 am

Red Bull leads final Chicago practice

By Pete Pistone

JOLIET, Ill. - Team Red Bull teammates Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne led Friday's final practice session for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams at Chicagoland Speedway.

Qualifying to set the lineup for Sunday's Geico 400 is set for later Saturday afternoon.


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