If Vickers makes Chase, he can thank his pit crew
On Sunday night in Atlanta, Brian Vickers’ crew did something that caught everyone’s attention … changing a right-rear axle on pit road under caution quick enough that he could get out in front of the leaders and go on to finish in the top-10. If he hadn’t stayed on that lead lap, his Chase hopes would have been essentially finished.
So if Vickers can continue his hot streak and race into the Chase at Richmond, he will owe a great debt of gratitude to his pit road squad. Most amazing of all is that this team has actually practiced this very scenario, making it possible for them to do it so quickly. This shows how completely dedicated the team is to being ready for any scenario that comes their way on raceday, even the rare ones.
Replacing an axle like they did, so quickly that Vickers was able to stay on the lead lap, is an impressive feat that shows just how dedicated the Red Bull team is to making the Chase and competing for a title. By comparison, Jimmie Johnson has axle trouble and had to go into the garage to fix it, losing laps in the process. I understand the teams are in different positions points-wise, but it gives you some perspective on the situation.
People often forget how much of a team sport NASCAR is, and actions like we saw from the Vickers crew remind us of that. Put simply, without them he wouldn’t have a shot at making the Chase, and with them he most certainly does.
Considering that his newly minted enemy Kyle Busch is also fighting to get into the Chase, I look forward to the show these two are going to put on Saturday at Richmond. They will likely both run up front, and hope Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle or another driver in the Chase fumbles enough to give them a Chase spot.
It should be a great night at Richmond this weekend, and it’s because of the #83 pit crew that Vickers is even in the Chase discussion still. Next time the team goes out, the drinks are on him.
Labor Day show brings crowd back to Alanta
Looks like the date change did wonders for attendance at Atlanta this year. Back in the spring, only about 60,000 fans showed up at the track. By contrast, the Labor Day event drew more than 100,000 fans, and some of the drivers were amazed by how many fans showed up at the track.
Look for that spring date to go away by 2011, when Kentucky will likely get a race at the expense of another Bruton Smith track -- that being Atlanta. And look for the Labor Day race to stay at Atlanta for a long time after those big numbers in the first year.