Inotes:/I Vickers School Daze
May 24, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
There’s a little ceremony called graduation. From high school, no less. Vickers will qualify his No. 40 Dodge, hang around the track for a couple hours, practice in Happy Hour and then drive 55 miles northeast to Trinity, N.C., where he’ll participate in graduation ceremonies for Trinity High School.
Vickers missed his high school prom two months ago because he was racing at Bristol Motor Speedway. He joked with his friends about their rented limousines, telling them “I can assure you none of them had a hot rod like I had,” he said.
And none of them will be going as fast Friday, either.
“It’s shaping up to be a crazy but exciting week,” Vickers said. “It’s a week I am sure not to forget.”
Vickers will graduate with honors, finishing with a 4.43 grade-point average. His dad made sure school came first and racing came second.
“My father always had a rule that I had to keep a ‘B’ average in order to race,” Vickers said.
Vickers has clearly done a lot more than that. Meanwhile, his racing career has improved, too. He ran in the Hooters Pro Cup series in 2000, winning the Rookie of the Year award. The next year, he won two races in the Hooters Pro Cup and also competed in four Busch races.
In the midst of a 24-race Busch Series schedule, Vickers has one top-10 finish in five starts.
“It’s been difficult, going to school and racing,” Vickers said. “It took a lot of scheduling to get the whole thing balanced. And probably having to do both probably took a little bit from both.
“This whole growing-up thing has hit me. A lot of people get 15 years to do what I’ve had to in just one or two years, as far as figuring it all out. It took a lot of hard work, but I had to stay with it.”
Purvis Released From Hospital
Jeff Purvis, who was seriously injured in a Busch Series crash at Nazareth Speedway last Sunday, will be released from a Pennsylvania hospital Friday afternoon. Purvis will be flown to an undisclosed location to begin what is likely a lengthy rehabilitation.
Purvis suffered multiple injuries in the crash in the Stacker 2 200, including a contusion to the left frontal base of his brain, a broken leg and a cracked vertebra.
Purvis’ condition continues to improve, and when he was talking with Brewco Motorsports president Todd Wilkerson on Friday, he asked how the No. 37 Chevy did in practice at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Kevin Lepage is driving the car this weekend, with an announcement to be made about the future of the team early next week.
Purvis’ car blew an engine on Lap 169 of the race and slid into the Turn 1 wall. The engine sprayed oil on the track, and with Purvis sitting prone against the wall, Greg Biffle’s car slid and slammed into the side of Purvis’.
He was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital in serious condition. Purvis was taken off a ventilator Monday.
Most Wanted Race Team
Officials from Body Dynamics Racing and Big Fan Racing announced a partnership with the FOX TV show “America’s Most Wanted” at a press conference Friday. The team will race in five Busch Series events this season, beginning next week at Dover.
Lance Hooper will drive the car, which will feature pictures of missing children in hopes of returning the children home and solving the cases. John Walsh, host of the TV show, hoped the exposure of NASCAR will help find the missing kids.
“A lot of ‘America’s Most Wanted’ viewers are also NASCAR fans,” Walsh said. “This is a great use of the media. Seventy percent of missing children that are found are located due to the media.”
On the Fast Track
There was no Winston Cup activity at the track Friday, but there was a buzz about the high speeds in Thursday night’s qualifying. Elliott Sadler, who qualified second to Jimmie Johnson, was amazed when he watched Johnson’s first lap of practice.
“He was the first person to practice, and he ran like a 29.40 right off the truck,” Sadler said. “We were like, ‘Holy cow, where did that come from?’ We were thinking 29.80s and .90s in practice were gonna be very good.”
The track had a lot of grip Thursday, perhaps from the rubber put down by the Goody’s Dash Series cars.
“I don’t know if it had something to do with the Dash cars, the amount of rubber they had laid down when they were on the track,” Sadler said. “I don’t know, but for some reason the track had so much more grip in it than anything we’re used to. If it rained and we had to try to do this all over again, we would not run this fast, and I don’t know why.
“Yes, the cars are getting better and faster, but we were just here last week. We’re a half-a-second faster this week than last week. We haven’t gotten the cars that much better, there’s just so much grip in the track tonight, and I have no reason why.”
Long Day For Sadler
Sadler is trying to get his release from the Wood Brothers, and much of Thursday was spent in meetings trying to hammer out an agreement.
“We had a pretty long day in the garage just trying to get through some of this stuff that’s been going on here lately in the news,” Sadler said. “We’re just trying to get all of my release stuff straight. We’re trying to get that done and over with so we can race. It’s hard for me to sit in that race car every week not knowing what’s gonna happen the next week coming up, and we were trying to hash through some of that.
“It was just a long, long day. It was probably the worst day I’ve ever had as a race car driver, but it really made me feel good to qualify that car second and come back in and see my smiling crew members who had to witness all this.”
Sadler wasn’t sure when his situation would calm down, let alone be resolved.
“I don’t know. I wish I could sit right here and tell you,” Sadler said. “This is about an hour by hour thing right now to me as far as me worrying about it. ... Everything is fine, but I just want to get back to racing. That’s what I know, that’s the only thing I know, so I want to get some of this stuff behind us where we can go try to win us a race.”
Atwood is a Home Boy
Casey Atwood is a homebody. When he was looking for a new house, Atwood considered many locations. But he didn’t want to be far away from family and friends.
“I never really wanted to move away from Nashville,” Atwood said. “There are some more places I could have gone, like out in the country. I still wanted to be around my family, all my friends that I grew up with. I wanted to stay around there.”