Misfortune struck Brian Vickers at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., site of the fourth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Early on, the right rear shock absorber on Vickers' #83 Red Bull Racing Toyota began to work loose, and eventually the shock mount broke completely. His crew tried to compensate for the problem, but no amount of adjusting could get the car working optimally. Eventually, Vickers caught a piece of the massive wreck in turn one on lap 245 of 250. Vickers finished 29th and fell 351 points behind Chase leader Jimmie Johnson.
In the fifth instalment of his Chase diary, Vickers talks about the problems at California, his view of the Chase after four races and his attitude heading into Saturday's NASCAR Banking 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
“It couldn't have come at a worse time. Part of it was bad luck, and part of it was preparation — or lack of it. The shock broke. The mount, where it was welded to the chassis, broke. We're still trying to research and figure out what the problem was. Obviously, it's not something that should fail. The shock mount came loose, and the right rear shock broke off.
“It was a handful, and, especially with the packages we run these days, that didn't make it any easier, to say the least. It was a long race. (The shock problem) started very early in the race. It slowly worked itself loose. … Once we realised that we couldn't fix the issue, at that point we decided to adjust the car around it as best we could. We put some rubbers in the right rear spring, hoping that — not having the shock — it would have the same effect. We changed some other things — I don't really want to go into detail — but we changed some other things about our package to help the car perform the best it could. We made it better, but, obviously, it wasn't great.
“I think we need to focus on Charlotte, but at the same time, we also need to analyse, recognise and understand what caused the problem at California, so we don't make the same mistake. … It's going to be very difficult for us at this point to win the championship, but it's not impossible. We could get on a hot streak, win a couple races, (the leaders) could have some problems — and we're right back in it. Obviously, that's not very likely. I think at this point we really have nothing to lose. We just need to focus on winning races.
“I think that right now the #48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the #5 (Mark Martin) (are the cars to beat). I know the #42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) is there as well, but the #48 and the #5 have experience from previous Chases and the experience of running for championships and winning championships. I think that goes a long way. I wouldn't count out the #14 (Tony Stewart) at this point in the Chase, as strong as he's run all year, leading the points going into this deal.
“I would say right now my attitude is that I'm expecting to get back on track and get momentum going back in the right direction. We need to have a good run at Charlotte.”
As told to Reid Spencer