Brian Vickers is the favourite to be "Rookie of the year" in 2004 as he races in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series, and attempts the Daytona 500 for the first time.

He took time out from testing for his debut season to give his views on what lies ahead.

Q:
How does it feel to be racing in the NEXTEL cup for the first time and to be getting ready for your debut Daytona 500?

Brian Vickers - #25 GMAC Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
It's very exciting, obviously. Being down here [Daytona] with Hendrick Motorsports and GMAC and Chevrolet and all these engineers is great. It's a neat time and a neat experience. It's a goal and dream of mine that I've worked for all my life. To finally be here means everything.

Q:
How are you preparing for the different kinds of tracks you'll race on this year?

BV:
We're going to be testing a lot and I'll be talking to my team mates - Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Terry Labonte - about some of the differences. I've got some great resources there. I'll just be focusing and concentrating. To me, everything is mental. You just switch your mind to it and you learn to adapt. You think about the differences and test at these race tracks you haven't been to and you go out there and do your best.

Q:
What do you think of the standards Ryan Newman has set? Can you win eight races in 2004?

BV:
That would be awesome! I think everyone grows at different rates, and yeah we want to win eight races. We want to win ten. Actually we want to win 38. But no matter what, we're going to go out there and do our best and get as much experience as possible. A lot of it is my growing and learning these cars and adapting to them. Most of it is just us working together and the chemistry between the team and me. I think that will be there and it'll be great, but it's going to take time. When all that comes together and gels, I think that is when you'll see the wins start coming. Hopefully we'll get that established in a short space of time.

Q:
How do you feel about being the favourite for the '04 'Rookie of the Year'?

BV:
I appreciate the support, it means a lot. I don't think anything has been decided yet. We've got a lot of races to go. There are a lot of great candidates for the title, a lot of people I've raced with in the past in the Busch Series and in Late Models. It means a lot to me and the Hendrick Motorsports GMAC Chevy team as a whole to know that people feel like we're the number one candidate. We're gonna do our best to live upto that.

Q:
What disadvantages does your age have?

BV:
There are advantages and disadvantages to everything. Sometimes your greatest strength is your greatest weakness at the same time. Mine is being 20. It's a great strength and something I can use it to my advantage a lot and sometimes it hurts me in a lot of ways. I want to thank IROC for giving me the opportunity, but for certain reasons I'm not going to be able to run the IROC Series this year. And I hate that. But the invitation is still there for next year and in the future. I'm excited about that.

I think being young has its advantages like the youthful desire that we young people have. But it has disadvantages because sometimes we don't know when to stop. Also, this (NASCAR) is about entertainment and marketing. The sponsors enjoy that youthful appearance. Certain ones do and certain ones don't. When you can start in the sport at 20, you've got ten more years of experience when you're 30 than the guys coming in at age 25. A lot of team owners look at the long-term and those advantages of having a young driver. So there are a lot of advantages there and some disadvantages as well.

 

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