Jun 18, 2013, 8:58 PM EDT
Brian Vickers loves to race, any time, anywhere. He also loves to travel.
He’ll get more than his share of both this weekend, as he’s the only driver who will attempt to race in Saturday’s Nationwide Series Johnsonville Sausage 200 (no, we’re not making that name up) at Road America and then double up by competing in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
That’s 202 miles around the 4.05-mile Road America layout in the heart of Wisconsin’s Dairyland, the longest road course in NASCAR, and another 219 miles (350 kilometers, hence the name) at Sonoma’s 1.99-mile track in California’s wine country, the shortest road course in NASCAR competition.
Grand total: 421 miles of racing — barring any green-white-checker finishes that may take one or both races into overtime.
That’s the easy part.
There’s another 2,180 miles that Vickers must traverse to get from Road America to Sonoma. Let’s also not forget the 950 miles from Charlotte to Road America, and then the roughly 2,750 miles from Sonoma back to North Carolina.
Add it all up, between racing and flying and Vickers will cover approximately 6,300 miles in a race car and airplane.
Just reading that distance is enough to tire someone out, let alone go through it like Vickers will.
“I’m looking forward to both of them,” Vickers said on NASCAR’s weekly media conference call Tuesday. “It’s going to take a little different mentality and technique going from Road America which is a little bit faster place to Sonoma which is a slower, more technical road race, but I’m up for the challenge and excited.”
It will be the first time racing at Road America for Vickers, while he’s raced seven times previously at Sonoma. Not only did he win the pole there in 2009, he had his best career finish there last year, with a strong fourth-place showing.
Vickers has to be at Road America: the driver of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing is competing on a full-time basis and for the championship in the Nationwide Series. Sonoma is an added bonus, a track he just loves to run on. Even though Jason Bowles will qualify the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota for Vickers in California, because of the driver change Vickers will have to start Sunday’s race from the back of the pack.
“Obviously missing qualifying at Sonoma and starting last is not going to help, but there are benefits,” Vickers said. “I think there’s opportunities at Sonoma to get to do a little bit different pit strategy. Knowing that you don’t really have track position to protect kind of can create opportunities. We’ve been there in the past where we’ve had either bad qualifying or something happened during the race and we had to come in and pit or penalties on pit road, like last year we had the penalty on pit road and had to go to the back and we worked our way back up to fourth, but as much as it hurt us, it also created opportunities.”
Even though its his first time on Road America’s 14-turn serpentine track (Sonoma has only 12 turns), Vickers hopes a strong finish will help him make a significant climb back upward in the Nationwide standings. After being ranked as high as third, wrecks in his last two races have plummeted Vickers to 10th in the series.
“Obviously setting up for a track that long, you have a lot of give and take, right?” Vickers said. “You get a little bit here but you give up a little bit here when you make a change in the setup. The longer the track, the worse that is.
“I would say the hardest thing for myself and I think a lot of guys going into this weekend is that we’ve never seen it. Most of the guys have not raced there, there’s a few that have. I believe maybe Sam Hornish has run there in other cars, Max Papis and a few guys, but most guys have not, including myself, and the hardest part is going to be just learning a new four‑mile race track.”
He’ll get to practice there Friday and qualify Saturday morning before Saturday afternoon’s race. With a 5:20 pm ET start, the field will have to hustle to the finish line: Road America does not have lights.
According to NASCAR, Vickers and 13 other drivers will be first-timers at Road America. The others are A.J. Allmendinger, Alex Bowman, James Buescher, Landon Cassill, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Mike Harmon (if NASCAR allows him to race after surrendering for arrest late Monday on burglary and theft charges), Parker Kligerman, Kyle Larson, Johnny O’Connell, Travis Pastrana, Regan Smith, Dexter Stacey and Derek White.
Not to be a Debby Downer, but for Vickers’ sake let’s hope there’s no rain delays or postponements at either place. It was just two weeks ago that Joey Logano tried to do a Saturday-Sunday twinbill, competing in a Saturday night Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway and then a Sunday afternoon matinee race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.
While Logano had the best intentions, Mother Nature had other plans. The Iowa race was eventually postponed to Sunday morning due to rain, so Logano had to fly back to Pocono in the middle of the night. Ryan Blaney filled in for him at Iowa that Sunday morning, finishing ninth — very respectable given it was Blaney’s first Nationwide race of the season, and that he was thrown into it literally at the last minute.
As for Logano, the redeye flight didn’t seem to impact his Pocono performance too much: he finished 10th. Vickers can only hope for so much.
May 26, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Look out for Nelson Piquet Jr. and SH Rallycross to have a big year in 2015.
May 26, 2015, 9:04 AM EDT
Daly gets confirmed for this weekend’s pair of races in Detroit.
Juan Pablo Montoya earns nearly $2.5 million for Indy 500 win (full box score with winnings attached)
May 26, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Team Penske nearly doubles his haul from first Indy 500 win 15 years ago.
May 25, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT
Runner-up Will Power said it’s as simple as making the cars slower.
May 25, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT
After his second triumph in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, he is ovewhelmed by congratulatory messages.
Montoya’s Indianapolis 500 win adds another storied chapter to the Roger Penske-Chip Ganassi rivalry
May 25, 2015, 2:12 PM EDT
They are the only car owners to win the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in the same season.
May 25, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
The Mercedes-affiliated youngster clinches his first win of the season around the legendary streets of Monaco.
May 25, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
After a miserable run of form, Latvala finally climbs to the top step of the podium with a narrow win over Sebastien Ogier in Portugal.
May 25, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
Andretti ends sixth, best of the day for the defending Indy 500-winning team, while Hildebrand leads the one-off drivers.
May 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
Running inside the top ten, Grosjean’s hopes of points were dashed on Sunday in Monaco when Max Verstappen crashed into him.
May 25, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT
Townsend Bell’s final blog for the Indianapolis 500 touches on family, meeting Jeff Gordon, and a crazy view from the driver’s seat.
May 25, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
A sixth-place finish in Monaco disappoints Raikkonen, but he lays blame with his poor qualifying form.
May 25, 2015, 9:48 AM EDT
One of Simon Pagenaud’s best oval races to date ends P10 after running top three most of race.
May 25, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The win may have come by accident, but Rosberg etched his place in F1 history on Sunday.
May 25, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
The Red Bull boys finish fourth and fifth in Monaco to give the team something to smile about after a tough start to the season.
May 25, 2015, 1:04 AM EDT
Sunday’s winners of the NHRA Kansas Nationals were Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Richie Crampton (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock).
May 24, 2015, 8:42 PM EDT
Video recap of Montoya’s win at Indianapolis 500.
May 24, 2015, 7:47 PM EDT
In his second win at the Brickyard, the Team Penske driver delivered a performance that embodies his style.
May 24, 2015, 7:31 PM EDT
The latest Paddock Pass is now online.
May 24, 2015, 7:24 PM EDT
Once again in 2015, it’s Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing best of Honda’s brigade.
- Drivers ponder why cars didn’t go airborne during the Indianapolis 500 2
- Bell: “A wild Indy 500 without the finish we desired” 0
- Ryan: Juan Pablo Montoya comes full circle at Indianapolis 1
- F1 Paddock Pass: Monaco Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO) 2
- Montoya rallies for second Indianapolis 500 victory (VIDEO) 10
- Hamilton: Impossible to express how I feel after Monaco defeat 4
- Rosberg lucks in to third straight Monaco GP win after Mercedes’ mistake costs Hamilton victory 54