Celebration Cut Short For Vickers
February 20, 2009 | 4:53 P.M. EST
A week after being involved in a controversial accident with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Daytona 500, Vickers put his Team Red Bull Toyota in the top spot for the second race of the season.
"Obviously, the best way to move on from a situation or a controversy is to give them something else to talk about," Vickers said. "We've given them that this week."
Vickers turned a lap at 183.439 mph to earn his second pole at the two-mile southern California track.
"It always feels good to be on the pole. ... Probably more important than that is the pit selection -- that's what you're fighting for, in my mind, on Sunday," Vickers said.
The celebration for Vickers didn’t last long, as the No. 83 team was forced to change engines after time trials. They’ll now have to use Saturday’s lone 1-hour, 45-minute practice session to dial in the No. 83 Toyota before dropping to the rear in Sunday’s race.
Jimmie Johnson was second fastest at 183.164 mph. Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five.
"The only thing I can think of is Brian and I went to In-N-Out Burger last night," Johnson said. "I had a double-double and he had a single. With that extra patty, five-hundreths of a second killed me."
McMurray's run was satisfying to the Roush Fenway Racing driver who is hoping to rebound from last week's Daytona disappointment.
"That was really good," McMurray said. "The car just didn’t seem to have very much grip in qualifying trim this morning. I thought we were one of the best cars in race trim of the 25 or so cars that did race trim. But, just qualifying wasn’t there, but (crew chief) Donnie Wingo definitely earned his money today."
Sixth through 10th were Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann, A.J. Allmendinger, Scott Speed and Kyle Busch.
Five cars failed to qualify: Todd Bodine, Tony Raines, David Starr, Mike Garvey and Sterling Marlin.
Michael Waltrip Racing's Michael Waltrip changed an engine following qualifying and will start Sunday's race from the rear of the field.