Shot Down in the Shootout
Brian Vickers was on target for the best Shootout finish of his career Saturday night when a chaotic final lap left his Red Bull Toyota limping home with an 11th-place finish.
Driver No. 83 drafted at the front all night — even leading two laps —after starting seventh. He mentioned the track was “loosening up,” and the team opted to give up track position in favor of one last stop for four tires on lap 67.
He held the ninth position during the eighth caution that set up a green-white-checkered finish. “We have a good car,” he said, “but no one is as good as us so it is hard to find help.”
On the final lap, Vickers became a victim of circumstance in a four-wide pack that crashed entering turn three. He crept to the start-finish line as one of only 13 drivers to complete all 78 laps in the wild race.
“We were making a run back up to the front and the 18 (Kyle Busch) went low,” Vickers said. “He came back up on the race track and everybody just kind of got jammed up four wide and started beating on each other and then in turn three the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) wrecked. I don’t know how — if he got spun or what happened and I tried to avoid him but there was really nowhere to go.”
Teammate Scott Speed started fourth in his first Sprint Cup race at Daytona. And like Vickers, the rookie had nowhere to go when a multi-car accident erupted on lap four. Speed drove his No. 82 Red Bull Toyota back to the garage, but the front-end damage was too severe to return to the track. His night lasted a little more than three minutes as he finished 25th.
“Wrong place, wrong time," Speed said. "The thing is, with these things when someone wrecks in front of you, you’re pretty much committed. If you’re on the top these cars are so heavy they’re going so fast you can’t exactly just say, ‘Okay, I want to be on the bottom now.’ You’re pretty committed.”