Toyota NNS Daytona Media Day Brian Vickers Notes & QuotesBy Official Release
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your expectations for the season?
“Hopefully we’ll have opportunities to win a lot of races and compete for a championship. I think I am very fortunate to be with two great teams at Joe Gibbs Racing as well as Michael Waltrip Racing. We have great partners at Dollar General and Toyota and Aaron’s — we are looking forward to a great year with two great teams.
Do you feel you have something to prove this year?
“I think as an athlete you have something to prove every time you get on the race track whether it’s to yourself or someone else. We’re competitors — we want to win. I don’t know if I so much feel pressure or feel that I owe someone that I have something to prove. I’m doing this because I love it. My goal is to go win the championship.”
Do you expect to be in the No. 55 Camry full-time next year?
“It’s a possibility — there’s no guarantees. There have been years when I was young, healthy and everything was great — I had a contract and I was 100 percent sure that I was going to be in a car next year and contractually they were obligated to put me in it and I was laying in a hospital bed. That’s a tough question to answer.”
Were you surprised at how well you ran in only eight Cup races in 2012?
“I’ve never run eight races. I never ran an eight-race schedule so I wasn’t sure how that was going to go, but fortunately I was with a great team and manufacturer with Toyota. Rodney (Childers) was a great crew chief and put together a great team on the 55. We ran well every time we showed up to the race track. I had a lot of fun in Europe too. I had fun in the Middle East and Europe racing sports cars. It was just a phenomenal year. I’m really appreciative for it.”
Will it be an adjustment to run full-time again this season?
“Last year was easy, it was fun. You race eight races and you spend half the year in Europe and you race there and travel around, have a lot of time off — I still got to run a lot of races. I still got to be in the car a lot, it just wasn’t the grind of the NASCAR schedule. It’s going to be an adjustment this year, but at the same time if you want to compete for a championship then you have to run the full season.”
How grueling is the full-time Cup or Nationwide schedule?
“The time and energy it takes for the teams and the drivers and everyone involved to race every single weekend, particularly in the Cup level and the Cup schedule, but even in the Nationwide Series is a lot. This year for me the way the schedules worked out, even though there’s not as many Nationwide races as there are Cup races, I actually have less time off because of the overlap between the Cup races I’m running and the Nationwide than I’ve ever had probably in my career. It’s going to be a long season, but I love what I do and no one should feel sorry for me. The grind is tough — it’s particularly tough on the crews and the families and being gone on the road all the time. It’s a long season — it’s one of the longest in sports. If I could run for a championship and not run every race, I think most guys probably would.”
How do you compare the Nationwide Series competition this year to 2003 when you won the championship?
“I think it’s going to be a very competitive year. There was a lot of competition that year and there were a lot of guys racing for the championship and a lot of good teams. This year is similar to that. There’s a lot of good drivers — some Cup experience and some not. A lot of the guys in the Nationwide Series are going to be racing for the championship. It’s
their second or third year in the series. There’s a lot of well-funded teams. I think this is one of the first years that I can remember that it’s kind of equivalent to that year. The Nationwide Series is always at a little bit of a disadvantage because they always lose a lot of their talent to the Cup Series — sometimes it goes one at a time and sometimes it goes in waves. What comes into the Nationwide Series can vary — in the 2003 year there was a lot of guys that are now all in Cup from that year. I think you’re going to see a lot of that this year. There’s a lot of young talent that will end up in the Cup Series. It’s probably going to be one of the more competitive seasons that we’ve seen in a long time.”
Have you spent time with Elliott Sadler?
“We go to dinner every once in a while and we’ve always gotten along. We don’t hang out because he (Elliott Sadler) lives in the middle of the woods. I don’t mind visiting the woods — I actually love the outdoors. It’s interesting — he and I actually have some similar interests for sure. I enjoy the city life more than he does, but I also really enjoy the country life. I grew up in the country and I love being outdoors — I love hunting and I love fishing. I don’t typically go to where he’s at to do that. There are so many great places around the world and around the country to do that. The people that I know in that circle and in that world tend to be on the West coast. A lot of times when we’re in Texas and I’m doing outdoor things, it’s typically in the Rocky Mountains — it’s not in Virginia. It’s not because I’m trying to avoid Elliott, it’s just where I end up. I suspect now with us being teammates that we will spend a lot of time together and we’ll probably end up spending more time away from the track together. Ultimately, we’ve always had a great relationship. It’s just that we’ve lived in different places and had different lives.”
What has Mark Martin done for your career?
“His (Mark Martin) experience, his perspective has been phenomenal. Being able to talk to him about the race car, about the team, about leaving, about just everything — he’s been a great friend and mentor and teammate and partner. I’ve learned a lot from the whole experience and just watching him in action or just talking to him. Just seeing how things he says or how he drives the car or the way he communicates or participates in team meetings.”
How much longer do you expect Mark Martin to compete?
“I have no idea — that’s a question for Mark (Martin). He could probably surprise us with how much longer he’s got. I suspect that he could go longer than he probably wants to. I think that it’s difficult comparing him to other guys when they retired at this age. Mark’s had a unique ability to stay in this sport, stay in competitive cars and do it part-time. He’ll throw in a full-time year and then he’ll throw in a few part-time years and then a full-time year. I learned myself last year, part-time years are easy — I don’t mean easy from a performance standpoint, but there’s very low stress and you’re not racing for the championship and you get some weekends off. I suspect that if our schedule wasn’t as long as it is then you’d probably see a lot more guys race longer. I think that the schedule the way it is and as the guys retire earlier than maybe they used to — Mark has gotten away with it because he’s taken a year off, driven some Nationwide, he’s done a lot of part-time years and I think that has extended his desire to compete as opposed to if he was only full-time. He would not be racing right now in my opinion. He would have retired. But he has found a way to make it work. I admire it.”