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Vickers nips Gordon for pole in Richmond

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Friday, May 01, 2009

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Brian Vickers
Toyota
Brian Vickers turned the fastest lap in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session to earn the pole for Saturday night's Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Vickers posted a lap of 171.131 mph in his Team Red Bull Toyota to claim the top spot, barely faster than Jeff Gordon.

The pole was the seventh of Vickers' Sprint Cup Series career.

"It was a great lap," Vickers said. "The car was unbelievable. I told the guys when I came across the line it was a pretty good one."

Jeff Gordon put his DuPont Chevrolet outside the front row with a lap of 126.844 mph.

Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, Jr. and Jeff Burton rounded out the top five.

Mike Bliss, Mark Martin, Scott Speed, David Reutimann and Ryan Newman completed the first ten qualifiers.

Saturday night's Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400 is slated for a 7 p.m. ET green flag with live coverage on FOX and MRN.

Q&A with polesitter Vickers

How was your qualifying lap? "It was a great lap.  The car was unbelievable.  I told the guys when I came across the line that it was a pretty good one. Whether or not it was going to be able to hold up, I wasn't sure.  I knew that myself and Jeff (Gordon) and Jimmie (Johnson) were all very close in practice -- all three had really good cars.  The sun popped out pretty bright when we ran our lap and I wasn't sure if that was going to make the difference but I knew that I couldn't ask anymore out of my car.  The Red Bull team did a tremendous job.  We didn't unload where we wanted to be.  We struggled through a lot of bad changes throughout practice, but the guys really turned it around which is difficult to do.  Once that momentum starts heading in the wrong direction, it's very difficult sometimes to turn it around.  We did turn it around and we had a really good car by the end of practice and made it even better for qualifying and the lap held."

How did the change in the weather (from practice) affect the track? "It hasn't changed much.  It added grip -- there's more grip on the track.  It hasn't changed dramatically, balance-wise."

How important is it to start up front here? "It's very important.  This is a very difficult track to pass on -- and pit selection matters."

Do you feel like you're better prepared now than you were five years ago when you were on the pole here? "The slower pole speed is due to obviously the COT and the track conditions.  The track is worn out a little bit and they don't seal it anymore like they used to, which I think is a good thing.  I think the sealing hurt it in races.  We probably have as good of a car or better to go and compete for a win and obviously five years of experience is priceless when it comes to especially racing in this series.  Not just qualifying, but racing.  There's a lot of competition.  It's a very difficult, very challenging series to race in and these cars are very difficult to drive in.  You can't put a price on five years of experience."

Do you enjoy competing at Richmond? "Yeah, it is.  I do enjoy Richmond.  It's probably not my favorite race track.  Not because there's necessarily anything wrong with it or anything particular I dislike about it, there's just others I like more.  I do like coming here.  It's a great race track.  I think it's a great race for the fans.  It's a very easy track to get beside someone.  It's a very difficult track to complete the pass which can be very frustrating in the race.  The short tracks, especially since I moved to Red Bull Racing, have definitely not been our best.  With a new team you have to pick and choose and we picked to focus on the intermediate tracks which was the obvious, logical choice because there's more of them.  We're just not starting to focus on short tracks.  We made a big effort towards the end of last year, primarily over the off season, to focus on short tracks and I think it's starting to pay off.  We had a great car at Martinsville -- ran in the top-10 all day.  Was going to have a top-10 or maybe a top-five and unfortunately were held on pit road for three laps while NASCAR looked for oil, there wasn't any and we were let go but it didn't matter because we were three laps down.  Then we come here with another great car and I think it's starting to show.  This hasn't been my best track and it definitely hasn't been Red Bull's best track over the years but we hope to turn that around this weekend."

Were you surprised that Denny Hamlin dominated this race last spring? "This is typically not the track that you're going to see someone walk away with it, this is typically not the series you're going to see somebody walk away with it and it's typically not the car you're going to see somebody walk away with it.  The fact that Denny (Hamlin) did it last year -- good for those guys, congratulations.  I think no matter what you race -- if it's on foot, in a boat, in a race car or you can name anything -- sometimes you have a group of individuals that just put every piece together better than anybody else and they're going to dominate.  That's part of any sport.  That's never going to go away.  It could happen tomorrow night.  It's probably not very likely.  I think it's very unlikely that it's going to happen but it's going to happen.  You're going to have races where that happens and to be honest with you, I really hope that we stink up the show tomorrow night.  That would be fantastic if we could just walk away with it but I don't anticipate that."

Race Lineup

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 127.131 21.238 Leader
2 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 126.844 21.286 -0.048
3 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 126.665 21.316 -0.078
4 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 126.642 21.320 -0.082
5 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Prilosec OTC / Wal-Mart 126.322 21.374 -0.136
6 09 Mike Bliss Dodge Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 126.286 21.380 -0.142
7 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Cheez-It / Carquest 126.257 21.385 -0.147
8 82 Scott Speed* Toyota Red Bull 126.180 21.398 -0.160
9 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 126.133 21.406 -0.168
10 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 125.945 21.438 -0.200
11 12 David Stremme Dodge Star Trek 125.927 21.441 -0.203
12 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 125.909 21.444 -0.206
13 20 Joey Logano* Toyota The Home Depot 125.892 21.447 -0.209
14 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Combos 125.798 21.463 -0.225
15 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 125.786 21.465 -0.227
16 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 125.751 21.471 -0.233
17 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 125.716 21.477 -0.239
18 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 125.681 21.483 -0.245
19 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 125.681 21.483 -0.245
20 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 125.535 21.508 -0.270
21 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Bush's Best Baked Beans / Kingsford / Clorox 125.441 21.524 -0.286
22 6 David Ragan Ford UPS Freight 125.424 21.527 -0.289
23 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge McDonald's McCafe 125.366 21.537 -0.299
24 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 125.197 21.566 -0.328
25 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard - Drive the Guard / Amp Energy 125.023 21.596 -0.358
26 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 124.908 21.616 -0.378
27 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 124.792 21.636 -0.398
28 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 124.763 21.641 -0.403
29 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 124.700 21.652 -0.414
30 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Adaptive One 124.700 21.652 -0.414
31 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Paralyzed Veterans of America / King's Cup 124.683 21.655 -0.417
32 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Stanley Tools 124.654 21.660 -0.422
33 98 Paul Menard Ford NIBCO / Menards 124.585 21.672 -0.434
34 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet TRG Motorsports 124.579 21.673 -0.435
35 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt 124.298 21.722 -0.484
36 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Energizer 124.281 21.725 -0.487
37 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 124.149 21.748 -0.510
38 41 Jeremy Mayfield Toyota SmallSponsor.com 124.127 21.752 -0.514
39 36 Scott Riggs Toyota Tommy Baldwin Racing 123.768 21.815 -0.577
40 96 Bobby Labonte Ford Ask.com 123.468 21.868 -0.630
41 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 123.265 21.904 -0.666
42 34 John Andretti+ Chevrolet WindowWorld.com 122.917 21.966 -0.728
43 37 Tony Raines Chevrolet Long John Silver's 123.700 21.827 -0.589
44 64 Todd Bodine Toyota Gunselman Motorsports 123.119 21.930 -0.692
45 106 Trevor Boys Dodge Boys Will Be Boys Racing Co. 117.228 23.032 -1.794

+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie

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