Vickers wants clearer rain policy
Brian Vickers would like clarity brought to one area of NASCAR murkiness.
Left with a second-place finish after NASCAR called the Coke Zero 400 because of rain on Sunday at 3 in the afternoon and 47 laps left at a Daytona track with lights for night racing, Vickers wants NASCAR to announce guidelines for calling races early.
“I think if anything really so that everyone, including the fans, and especially the teams, can make probably better decisions knowing if we're going to wait all day or if we're going to wait till when,” the Thomasville native said on a conference call Tuesday.
“Unfortunately it can be a moving target and every track is going to be different. Obviously some tracks have lights like Daytona so you can race well into the night and some tracks don't have lights. Some tracks have noise curfews, when you can start, when you have to stop a race, or there's penalties. But I think having some guidelines in place to say, ‘Listen, at this track on a Sunday we will race until this time, on a Monday we'll race until this time.’ Just kind of knowing that going in because you may make different decisions.”
The call to the end the race came after it had been postponed from the day before and a forecast for rain last well into the night. Rain continued until 8 and track drying would have taken at least two hours.
Under NASCAR rules, the race was official when it was stopped because more than half of the prescribed 400-mile distance had been completed. Vickers moved into second just before the rains came when he pushed eventual winner Aric Almirola to the lead past Kurt Busch.
“I'm sure if I was sitting in Victory Lane I probably would have been fine with the decision to call the race,” he said. “But when you're second with a chance to win, you obviously want to go racing.
“That's that. It is what it is at this point.“
A win would have virtually qualified Vickers for the Chase for the Championship under NASCAR’s new win-and-you’re-in rules. But, although disappointed that he did not get another chance to race for the victory at Daytona, Vickers also realizes that we may have finished way worse than second if the race had restarted.
“From a mathematical standpoint you have to kind of walk away and say that was a good day and move on,” Vickers said. “But as a competitor and racer, you want to win.”
Vickers has eight races left in which to qualify for the Chase by either winning or climbing high enough in driver standings to get in on points if there are not 16 winners to fill the playoff field.
This week, the tour moves to Loudon, N.H., where Vickers is the defending champion. His win last July was one of the surprises of 2013 because he was driving part-time for Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers now drives for MWR full-time.
“Obviously I like Loudon,” Vickers said. “Especially a track where you’ve won, you'll always like. We also had a great test up there last week. But I know a lot of other teams tested there as well.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I think we're definitely capable of winning again. It would be a great place to have a repeat win and lock ourselves into the Chase.“
One subject on which Vickers shied away from giving much of an answer was the recent formation of the Racing Teams Alliance by nine of the most powerful Cup teams.
The RTA is being chaired by Rob Kauffman, who became co-owner of MWR when he saved it from going under a few years ago.
“You know, I just get in the car every Friday and just drive as fast as I can, pretty much do everything I can to make that process go faster,” Vickers said. “I don't know enough, to be honest with you, about it to have any opinion. I think any of those questions are better addressed to Rob or the ownership group.“
BUSCH’S TEAM PENALIZED
The Stewart-Haas team that field Busch’s No. 41 cars was penalized Tuesday because of the difference in the height of a couple of mounting bolts was greater than prescribed by rules.
Busch and team owner Gene Haas each lost 10 points, and crew chief Daniel Knost was fined $10,000.