Vickers Scores Career Best

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Sunday's event at Atlanta Motor Speedway began much like the 2005 season to date has for the GMAC Racing team - with several unfortunate setbacks. But the team and driver Brian Vickers displayed remarkable patience, resolve and teamwork and were rewarded with a well-earned sixth-place finish, Vickers' career best to date in the NEXTEL Cup Series.

After qualifying eighth, Vickers quickly encountered some problems on lap one when he and the No. 32 of Bobby Hamilton, Jr. came together exiting turn 2. The contact forced both drivers to pit road for repairs, after the red flag period for a multi-car accident that occurred during the first lap.

GMAC Racing crewchief Lance McGrew felt the team could not risk not correcting the fender damage and called Vickers to pit road, sacrificing all of their track position. During the next 35 laps, Vickers proceeded to run lap times consistent with the leaders and moved all the way to 18th position.

After another round of green flag pit stops, Vickers reported a vibration and handling problem and felt he might have a tire issue. After conferring with crewchief McGrew, Brian brought the No. 25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolet to pit road for a green flag pit stop and four new Goodyear tires. The team could not diagnose any tire problem and the unscheduled pit stop put Vickers one lap down to the leaders.

However, powered by great pit stops all day long by his GMAC Racing teammates and displaying impressive resolve himself, Vickers quietly gained positions throughout the middle portion of the event and eventually earned his lap back, returning to the top-10.

In the closing laps when the leaders pitted under the final caution period of the race, McGrew made the call for no fuel and quick service by the GMAC Racing crew gained Vickers several positions, allowing him to restart 4th. It was a calculated gamble, but the weight balance from the lack of fuel appeared to negatively affect the handling of the No. 25 Chevrolet more than expected. Vickers lost ground to the leaders in the closing laps, but held on to finish 6th.

"Today was tough," stated an encouraged and relieved Vickers afterwards. "This team earned this finish... I'm pretty sure that out of the top-10 finishers, we passed more people than anyone today. To have problems again like we seem to keep encountering, but come from the back of the field twice says a lot about this GMAC/ditech.com team. We never said quit and Lance and the crew kept making the car better every stop. We were definitely a Top 5 car today or better if not for the track position we lost. This is hopefully a great momentum-builder for our entire program."

The sixth-place finished moved Vickers up eight spots to 22nd in the NEXTEL Cup Series points standings.

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