Fuel Mileage at MIS: Shocking
In typical Michigan fashion, conservation was key. The Lifelock 400 came down to fuel mileage.
Brian Vickers’ No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, one of the race’s dominant cars before finishing fourth, gave up the lead on lap 188 to pit for a splash of gas. Once the stops cycled through, Brian found himself in the top five.
A caution flag waved with three laps to go when the No. 77 spun, setting up a green-white-checkered finish. NASCAR lined up the No. 83 in fourth, behind the No. 8 of Mark Martin, in front of the No. 17 of Matt Kenseth and much to Brian’s dismay. He never could mount a charge on the restart with the slower No. 8 up ahead.
“We kind of got it taken away from us,” Brian said. “We passed the 8 car about two laps before the caution came out and for some reason NASCAR wanted to put them back in front of us. That pretty much cost us the race right there in my mind.”
So Brian settled for another top-five finish — the team’s second in a row after a runner-up showing June 8 at Pocono. From his 18th starting position, Brian charged into the lead in a mere 33 laps and led four times for 44. He moved up one spot in the standings to 16th and gained 15 points in the race to the Chase. He’s 97 points out of 12th.
AJ Allmendinger felt the effects of fuel mileage, too.
He started 39th and motored into the top 15 by lap 120, even leading a circuit not long after. “There you go,” spotter Tim Fedewa yelled as AJ picked off car after car.
While running second with four laps to go, the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota peeled onto pit road for fuel and four tires. The sequence, however, didn’t play into AJ’s favor, and he returned to the track in 22nd. He could do no better than 19th at the checkered flag.
“We started off and the thing was great. We just kept picking them off one by one,” AJ said. “The car was great. Pit strategy sucks. We need to learn how to do pit strategy.”
Still, AJ climbed three spots to 40th in the driver standings after his third top-20 finish in the past four races. The No. 84 is gaining in the top 35, too. It picked up 30 points while remaining 37th in the car owner standings.
Up Next: Toyota/Save Mart 350, Sunday, June 22, Infineon Raceway