The Frontstretch: Beyond the Cockpit: Brian Vickers on Luck, Teammates, and Jumping Out of a Perfectly Good Airplane by Amy Henderson -- Tuesday July 14, 2009

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Brian Vickers has seemed constantly on the verge of breaking a two-and-a-half year winless streak for much of the last few months. His five poles lead all Cup Series drivers, and he has become a top 10 threat nearly every week as the No. 83 Team Red Bull Toyota crew looks to put him in position to make the Chase. Our Amy Henderson sat down with Vickers for a second time (read last year’s interview here) to talk about his team’s rise to weekly contention, why you need to be both lucky AND good, his relationship with new teammate Scott Speed, and the things he loves to do away from the track.

Amy Henderson, Frontstretch.com: The last time we talked was about a year ago — can you give us a quick update on how things are going? It really seems like your team has advanced to the next level.

Brian Vickers: We’ve definitely come a long way. We’re proud of how far we’ve come, but we still have a long way to go. We obviously want to win a race this season. We haven’t done it yet, but I still think we’re capable of it. We’ve led a lot of laps, and have five poles — more than anyone else — which we’re very proud of.

Henderson: What do you think that next step is as far as winning races? It certainly looks like your team is right there every week.

Brian Vickers has won his share of poles in 2009, but will the first win for Team Red Bull be right around the corner?

Vickers: We’ve accomplished a lot. I feel like we’ve had some work to do — on the driver’s part, on the team’s part, in the race shop. But above and beyond that, I feel like we just need to have a little bit of luck. I tend to not be a very superstitious person, but I’ll tell you what, we just don’t seem to have any luck, if that’s what you want to call it. We’ll have a really great car, capable of winning, and something happens that leaves us fifth.

Henderson: What is your status with a contract extension at Team Red Bull?

Vickers: We actually haven’t signed it yet. I’m waiting on them to sign it. We’ve agreed on everything verbally. Originally, they had said that they were going to sign it a month ago, so I’m not sure what happened — but we’ll just wait and see.

Henderson: One thing that’s been rumored lately for your team is a switch from Toyota to Chevrolet, as well as an alliance with Hendrick Motorsports. Is that something that is in the works?

Vickers: Honestly, that’s a question best suited for Jay Frye or someone at Red Bull. It’s not really something I can say. I do know that we are a Toyota team now and proud to be so. We’ve obviously worked very well together for the past three years… as far as I’m aware, we are a Toyota team. Now, if another manufacturer approached the team, that would be a question best suited for Red Bull.

Henderson: You have a new teammate this year in Scott Speed, but you had a bit of a run-in on track recently at New Hampshire where you both ended up crashing. Overall, how do you assess your relationship with him at this point?

Vickers: I think the relationship with Scott is great. I felt like it was pretty good. Obviously, him wrecking me has definitely strained the relationship a little bit. I think… it hurts, you know, to be wrecked. It’s very frustrating after the race to hear he thought it was my fault for slowing down in the turn. I mean, I know that’s what not to do. We’ll see where it goes. I haven’t heard from him; he [still] hasn’t called or anything, so I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Henderson: You have a place in New York City — why New York? How much time do you get to spend there during the year?

Vickers: I like to visit New York and vacation there. I have a lot of friends there. I think it’s an interesting city. I haven’t spent as much time there as part of where I live; it’s too hard to get to the race shop from up there. But I travel a little bit up there. I travel all over the place.

Henderson: Where is your favorite place that you have traveled so far?

Vickers: I’m not sure; that’s a great question. I’ve traveled so many amazing places. Every time I go to a place, I think it’s my favorite, and then I go to the next one and I think it’s my favorite. One that would be at the top of my list is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There are a lot of other places as well that I love.

Henderson: A year ago, you had just taken up skydiving as a hobby. Are you still doing that; is it still fun?

Vickers: Yes! I’m still skydiving, it’s my new hobby and I love it! It’s fantastic. You get such an adrenaline rush with every jump.

Contact Brian Vickers

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Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

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Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.