When Brian Vickers made the Chase after driving the race of his year at Richmond in September, he was adamant that this team would be a factor in the Chase.
It has not gone as well as Vickers had hoped and it was not until last week that he finally got his first Top 10 finish in the Chase.
Now Vickers and his team heads to a track where Vickers won his first race in the Sprint Cup series with Hendrick Motorsports. Now he is hoping to pull off a victory and attempt to climb out of the basement of the standings.
It all started on Friday for the first practice of the day, Vickers ran a total of 17 laps, and his fastest lap was on lap 12. His time of 50.47 seconds had him sitting 33rd on the charts.
Just as reminder, your practice at Talladega is not like other tracks. There, you practice in large packs. Your qualifying runs do not really give you a good idea of how good your car is.
During the final practice on Friday and prior to qualifying on Saturday Vickers seemed to be focused on qualifying. They ran only two laps and their fastest lap (52.1 seconds) was their second lap which put them at the 28th spot.
On Saturday, rain cancelled qualifying and due to it being a restrictor plate race, NASCAR impounds the race cars and teams are not allowed to work on them until the green flag on Sunday. Vickers was going to roll off in 12th as the race was set by the standings.
As the green flag waved, Vickers quickly made his way up to the front. He was able to lead some laps but like most other leaders, he was not able to maintain.
Vickers came down on the first caution for a two tire change and fuel. He restarted deep in the pack but quickly moved right back up.
With NASCAR implementing a change in the rules before the race, the team strategy changed and we saw some single file racing. When they did start mixing it up, Vickers was moving to the front.
Vickers works really well in the draft here, he is able to drop back and work with others and get back up to the front of the pack. But unlike last year, Vickers was able to avoid any of the major wrecks and finish 13th.
Vickers and his team really called a great race both on track and on pit road. I was not surprised that they were running up near the front for most of the day.
I was surprised that in the end they were not able to really be a threat for the win.
Vickers has to be relieved he survived Talladega, although it did little to dig him out of the point cellar. He is still sitting 12th in the standings.
Vickers heads to Texas next week with some much needed momentum and is hoping to pull out a Texas-sized win.
Check out Jen Preston's Lugnut Report on Joey Logano.