Last Sunday was a disaster for Brian Vickers, who fought the handling of his #83 Red Bull Toyota, spun off Turn 4 looking for grip in the high groove at Kansas Speedway and suffered a race-ending engine failure that dropped him to 37th place and left him 12th in the Chase standings, an all-but-insurmountable 250 points behind leader Mark Martin with seven races left.
Throughout the day, Vickers was restrained and patient on the radio, mindful there was no need to make a bad day worse. Here in the latest instalment of his Chase diary he talks about his attitude, his struggles at Kansas and a more aggressive approach to the final seven races...
“It was a rough weekend, a rough weekend. I've scanned other drivers, and it's amazing some of the things they've said. Sometimes I say to myself, 'Maybe I should be more vocal.' But I think, in the long run, the way I was raised, it's better to keep your head level and calm, collected—it always seems to work out better in the long run. Sometimes you can raise your voice and say things that are not necessary, and you can get the results you're looking for. But I've always felt like, in the long run, you get more flies with honey.
“But sometimes it's difficult. … When I come back on the radio, and I say, 'We're tight,' and I say it with a calm demeanour, then sometimes they under-adjust the car. They don't think it's that bad, because I'm not screaming at them. It's a little bit of a learning curve between me and a crew chief, when we first start working together, that they need to understand that, no matter how bad it is, my voice and my language is rarely harsh. I won't say never - when the fuse is lit, I can still explode. But it doesn't happen very often.
“The track (at Kansas) did change a lot (from Saturday's practice). It's not uncommon for that racetrack to have a big change from Saturday to Sunday. …I was up there chasing grip in the top groove and spun it out. It was my fault. I was pushing the car too hard, and I should have known better. It didn't damage anything, and we kept going, but ultimately, the engine was our demise.
“It was a very difficult race. I know that a lot of people were complaining about handling issues - which is not a bad thing. It forces you as a driver to try different stuff, racing high, racing low. I think it makes for a great race.
“Now we've got a lot of ground to catch up, and being conservative is out the window. If we want to get back in this thing, we've got to win races. We're going to roll the dice. I need to talk to my crew chief (Ryan Pemberton) before I say too much, but we need to get our mojo back. We need to get back on track, and we can do that.
“The best way to do that is to win a race, and California (this Sunday) is a very good place to start.”
as told to Reid Spencer