Brian Vickers and his #83 Red Bull team made a huge save at New Hampshire, rallying from a problematic pit stop to finish eleventh.
A dropped lug nut cost him precious time, and when Vickers tried to back up into his pit stall, where his crew could mount the dropped lug, he lost the reverse gear, forcing his pit crew to push the car back into the boundaries of the pit box. Vickers restarted 30th after the mishap but methodically worked his way forward.
In the second installment of Vickers' weekly Chase Diary, the driver talks about last Sunday's New Hampshire race as well as his approach to the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, where he hopes to cut into his 90-point deficit to points leader Mark Martin.
“It was not how we wanted to go about it, but I guess it worked out fine (at New Hampshire). We didn't have a great car, but I thought we had a good car. But, obviously, with the pit stop there, to have to go back to practically last, it made for a long day.
“When the lug nut came off, they told me to back up, and I tried to, but with these cars, backing up in gear is not easy. The transmissions are really not built to go in reverse in the heat of the moment.
“After that, our biggest thing was just staying out of trouble. A couple of guys were driving really aggressive and over their heads, and we mainly tried to avoid them.
“A lot of guys were getting more and more aggressive, and the biggest thing was just to stay out of the wrecks. The biggest thing I've learned over the years in Cup racing is that you can't finish good if you don't finish. I'd say that's rule No. 1, especially when you're running back in the pack. The other thing was just trying to pass as many cars as possible.
“The double-file restarts helped a lot. Without the double-file restarts, you're not going to have the opportunity to get back up front. If you have a decent car and you make the right decisions, you can really make up a lot of spots. I think the double-file restarts present an opportunity for some very exciting racing, and a place like Dover is probably an extreme example.
“Our goal is to run top five every week. If we leave with a top-10 finish, I feel like that's kind of the minimum (we need). That's kind of our mindset. I don't think it's going to take an average of fifth this year (to win the Chase). I just don't. But I think we should approach it as if that's our goal. With that in mind, I think we should go into Dover looking to get a top five. Obviously, we'll try to win the race.
“I think Dover can be a good track for us. Statistically, it hasn't been one of my best, but I have won there in a Nationwide car (2003), and we've had good runs there in the Cup car, too, and good qualifying efforts. That's no guarantee of what's going to happen this weekend, but I know we can run good there. We're going to have to work really hard at it.”
As told to Reid Spencer