BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 15, 2008) — Brian Vickers charged to the front in practice speeds Friday and then maintained that speed to win the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo at Michigan International Speedway.
Vickers, driving the No. 83 car, knocked two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson off the pole by a wide margin. Vickers posted a speed of 188.536 miles per hour to blow past Johnson’s 187.028 mph. Elliott Sadler and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will occupy the second row with Jeff Gordon and Patrick Carpentier comprising row three.
“We’ve come a long way since last year and we still have a lot of harder work ahead of us to get to the front,” said Vickers following his fifth career pole in 159 starts and first this season. “When we unloaded the car it was just awesome right out of the gate. It handled and had such good grip. Sometimes you just hit it (right combination). You don’t know why. If you did you could do it every week.”
Vickers said he was surprised he could put so much speed between himself and Johnson, of Hendrick Motorsports, during practice but was a little leery of maintaining that spread once qualifying started.
“That is a great team, the team to beat in our sport,” Vickers said, “And to lay down a lap like that was great. I thought it would be tough to post a 38.40-second lap and then to get a 38.189 was just great. With this new car you don’t have to make as many changes as you had to in the past, but the track will go through changes, the car will have to be adjusted and while the pole is great, what you shoot for is what you do at the end of the day on Sunday.”
Johnson wasn’t as surprised as some at the differentiation in speed from first to second.
“It didn’t really shock me that much because he’s more of a guy who ran up front the majority of the race here last June,” Johnson explained. “I think that team and Brian, this is a track that fits their style. When Brian drove at Hendrick Motorsports this was one of his stronger tracks. Even though he didn’t have a great finish here in the spring he led a lot of laps and was very, very tough and is going to be more of a threat at race time here tomorrow.
“I knew mine wasn’t the perfect lap from inside the car. The car was much tighter than it needed to be and I was shocked to hear the lap time when I got back to the start-finish line. It wasn’t all that bad but I knew someone could go better and I knew Vickers was strong throughout the entire practice and sure enough he put up a big number.”
Sprint Cup points leader Kyle Busch qualified in the 11th starting position.
Tickets are available for Sunday’s 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo.
On Saturday, the NASCAR Nationwide Series cars take to the track during Nationwide Series qualifying starting at 10:40 a.m. The green flag for the CARFAX 250 is around 3:30 p.m. Gates open at 9 a.m.
For tickets, call the speedway’s ticket hotline at 800-354-1010 or stop by Michigan International Speedway’s start-finish line grandstand ticket office in the AAA Motorsports Fan Plaza.