From a bizarre problem with a solenoid to chain-reaction damage on a Lap 124 restart in last Saturday's race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Brian Vickers continued to suffer from ill fortune in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

After qualifying 30th and finishing 34th - thanks to the damage sustained on the critical restart - Vickers is 12th in the Chase standings, 485 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

In the sixth installment of his Chase diary, Vickers talks about his problems at LMS, the temporary loss of rear tyre changer Dave Woodhead (who left the track to witness the birth of his child), his current perspective on the Chase and his mixed feelings toward Martinsville. Five years ago, Vickers' best friend and former car owner, Ricky Hendrick, died on the way to Martinsville in a private plane crash that claimed the lives of 10 people.

"The rain (Thursday at Lowe's) kind of put everybody behind a little bit, and by the time the first practice started out, we went to start the racecar, and it wouldn't start. It just wouldn't turn over. We checked everything we could think of. It was getting voltage to the starter--it just wasn't turning over. We changed the starter twice, and that still didn't fix it. We ended up changing the solenoid, and it started up. Come to find out we had a bad solenoid, which is almost unheard of. That hardly ever happens.

"That ended up costing us big-time, because it put us behind in the first practice. We ended up not real happy with the car and started to thrash and made some changes to try to get through qualifying, which probably hurt us a little bit - took some speed out of the car just to make it more comfortable. So we ended up qualifying not where we wanted, of course, and that kind of set the stage for the weekend.

"We tried something in practice (Friday) that got us better, but nothing that had a lot of speed in the car. On Friday night, we went through a bunch of stuff. We went through some more stuff on Saturday morning. We all got together and talked about what worked and what didn't work. We came up with a new package for Saturday and put it in the car. We were really good in the race - everybody did a good job thinking through that. We were driving up through the field, and we got up to the top 10, but we had a pretty bad pit stop under the green flag that cost us about eight spots.

"One of our tyre changers was having a baby and had to go, so we had a sub in, and that hurt us. He (Woodhead) was there on Saturday. He stayed as long as he could - he stayed longer than he probably should have, to be honest with you. But he was there for the first stop.

"It hurt us a lot, but there's one thing I do want to say. I don't want him to think for one minute that he did the wrong thing, because he would have been crazy not to be able to see his child get born. I wouldn't have let that happen. It hurt us a lot, and it was frustrating, but we should have been more prepared as a team. ... It's not like your child being born is something you're not aware of. When the due date is the day of or the day following the race, I think we should be more prepared as a team. That's everybody.

"Nonetheless, it wasn't his fault, and he shouldn't feel bad about it, because there will be many more pit stops. Your child being born is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I thank him for his loyalty. The fact that he was even there for one stop - I want to beat him up, because that's excessive. That just shows you how committed these guys are.

"The Chase hasn't been kind to us. It's been frustrating, very frustrating. We've had way too many bad races in the Chase to be a threat for the championship. I think our focus right now needs to be on running the races, having fun and preparing ourselves for 2010. That's pretty much where we're at right now.

"Our approach now is that we still want to win races - that would be cool - but we can take more risks. If there's something that we've been wanting to try, but we've been afraid to do it because we're fighting for a championship - throw it in the car! Let's roll the dice. Let's go for it. ... No matter what, we're not going to finish worse than 12th in the points. When it comes to trying stuff and learning stuff for next year, we couldn't be in a better position.

"I'm looking forward to Martinsville. My first car race was there. I raced Allison Legacy cars there for the first time when I was a kid. I've got a lot of good memories of Martinsville, going there as a child, watching races with my dad. I remember standing on top of a van with Adam Petty and Austin Petty and watching the race.

"And I have some very bad memories. I lost my best friend while I was at Martinsville, Ricky Hendrick. I've got a bunch of good memories and some bad ones, too."

as told to Reid Spencer


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment