03/29/11 10:39AM Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR, Sprint Cup, Vickers

Vickers hoping Fontana is step in right direction

By Bill Kimm, NASCAR.COM
March 28, 2011 11:38 AM, EST


FONTANA, Calif. -- It's only one race, but Brian Vickers left Auto Club Speedway with a smile on his face thinking his luck could finally be changing.

"I think everyone is pretty happy," Vickers said following his eighth-place finish in the Auto Club 400. "The way our luck has been, to be honest with you. We had a good car all day, we were competitive all day. We just couldn't quite get that last little bit of tight out and compete for the win. The guys did a great job in the pits. This is what the Red Bull No. 83 team needed, just a good solid day. Especially [with] the weeks we've been having lately."


We had this one, and that was great, but we need five in a row before I feel like the monkey is really gone.


After missing most of last season due to blood clots, Vickers hasn't quite had the return he was hoping for. In three of the first four races this season, Vickers has finished 30th or worse after being in the wrong place at the wrong time at Daytona, Phoenix and Bristol.

But not at Fontana.

Vickers started 19th and by Lap 30 found himself in the top five. He would remain there most of the afternoon, ultimately earning his best finish of the season.

"We ran good all day. We were top five, top three all day," Vickers said. "We were just missing just a little bit to really compete for the win. We just couldn't quite get it out of the car. We kept throwing stuff at it every stop; we were just a little too tight. Either way, it was still a really good day for the Red Bull team. The way our luck's been lately, I think a top-eight, we'll take it."

Even with the eighth-place run, Vickers doesn't feel like all is well. It's going to take a few more top-10s before Vickers feels like the curse is gone.

"I'll feel like it's been removed once we have a couple of these in a row," Vickers said. "We had this one [Sunday], and that was great, but we need five in a row before I feel like the monkey is really gone. A good top-10 was great for us and we're going back in the right direction."

Vickers is going in the right direction in the points standings as well. He came into Fontana 31st in points and close to needing to race his way into the field at Martinsville instead of being guaranteed a starting spot by being in the top 35. With his strong run, Vickers jumped seven spots to 24th.

"I knew we weren't great in the points; that's all I needed to know. I knew we needed to be better," Vickers said. "So to move up a little bit, it definitely gives us a little more comfort going into Martinsville."

That comfort could be short lived if the luck that has plagued the No. 83 returns next week at Martinsville. But for now, Vickers chooses to look at the positive, knowing he has something to build on following Fontana.

"I think the team is doing well right now," Vickers said. "In some ways we're rebuilding and in some ways we're coming back together from many years. The pit stops have been good. You look at the whole program and we're building. The engines are getting better; everybody is getting better and we're competing at a higher level.

"Obviously we want to step that up, we want to compete to win, but the biggest thing that's held us back lately is bad luck. I hate to blame that and you can always argue that we could have done some things differently as well. But three weeks this year we've been caught in a crash that had nothing to do with us. There was nothing we could really do about it.

"Martinsville's been a great race track for us lately. Last couple times we've been there we've had a really good car."