Vickers takes NASCAR Cup pole at Chicagoland

  • By Dan Gelston Associated Press
  • Thursday, July 9, 2009 7:42pm
  • SportsSports

JOLIET, Ill. — Brian Vickers won yet another pole, his fifth one this season coming at Chicagoland Speedway.

Now the Red Bull Racing driver wants one of those starts to help get him to Victory Lane.

Vickers ran a lap of 184.162 mph on Thursday for his fifth pole this year and 10th in 191 career Cup races. Throw out races where qualifying laps were rained out, and Vickers has won the last three Sprint Cup poles.

“It was an amazing lap,” Vickers said. “I didn’t expect it to be that quick. I knew we had a really good car, and it was just up to me to mess up or finish the job.”

The same could be said with his race day finishes.

Vickers doesn’t have a win to show for his strong qualifying efforts in the No. 83 Toyota. He hasn’t finished higher than fifth this season and hasn’t won a Cup race since 2006.

“I’m very frustrated to not be in Victory Lane,” he said. “Winning poles is one of our goals. Winning races is the other. If I had to pick between the two, I’d pick wins over poles, but we’ll take whatever we can get.”

Vickers’ Red Bull Racing teammate Scott Speed, who needed to qualify on time, was second at 182.958. Three-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was third.

Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer round out the top five.

Points leader Tony Stewart was 32nd. Jeff Gordon, who trails Stewart by 180 points, was seventh.

“I knew we weren’t going to beat Vickers. He’s in another category,” Gordon said. “They definitely have their act together in qualifying.”

Speed, who has a rocky relationship with Vickers, posted the best start of his career. It helped Red Bull Racing claim both front row starting positions for the first time.

“Brian’s lap was incredible,” Speed said. “I didn’t really think that we had a shot to beat that, but I knew we had a shot to be at the front. But we also have to make the race. You’ve got to be smart about it.”

Speed was the last driver to attempt a qualifying lap under the lights.

Next up for Vickers is signing the contract extension he verbally agreed to with Red Bull months ago. Vickers, who is 17th in the points standings, said signing the contract was tabled when the economy soured. Still, Vickers says both sides are still in agreement on the terms, and he has thought several times to be on the brink of putting his name on the deal.

He’s not sure why there’s a holdup.

“For why, I can’t answer,” he said. “It’s a really strange situation. Normally in these circumstances, if you agreed on them, you sign them.”

Vickers said he’s excited about staying with Red Bull Racing and his potential for success with the organization.

After qualifying Thursday; race Saturday

At Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill.

Lap length: 1.5 miles

(Car number in parentheses)

1. (83) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 184.162.

2. (82) Scott Speed, Toyota, 182.958.

3. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 182.217.

4. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 182.162.

5. (33) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 182.1.

6. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 181.873.

7. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 181.653.

8. (21) Bill Elliott, Ford, 181.476.

9. (00) David Reutimann, Toyota, 181.385.

10. (47) Marcos Ambrose, Toyota, 181.378.

11. (43) Reed Sorenson, Dodge, 181.275.

12. (39) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 181.22.

13. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 181.22.

14. (5) Mark Martin, Chevrolet, 181.05.

15. (9) Kasey Kahne, Dodge, 181.02.

16. (77) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 180.977.

17. (6) David Ragan, Ford, 180.959.

18. (66) Dave Blaney, Toyota, 180.723.

19. (42) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 180.687.

20. (44) AJ Allmendinger, Dodge, 180.566.

21. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 180.548.

22. (2) Kurt Busch, Dodge, 180.433.

23. (31) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 180.367.

24. (20) Joey Logano, Toyota, 180.343.

25. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 180.313.

26. (09) Mike Bliss, Chevrolet, 180.132.

27. (98) Paul Menard, Ford, 179.856.

28. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 179.79.

29. (25) Brad Keselowski, Chevrolet, 179.635.

30. (26) Jamie McMurray, Ford, 179.629.

31. (87) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 179.474.

32. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 179.348.

33. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 179.348.

34. (19) Elliott Sadler, Dodge, 179.253.

35. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 179.217.

36. (12) David Stremme, Dodge, 179.099.

37. (55) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 179.033.

38. (07) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 179.027.

39. (36) Mike Skinner, Toyota, 178.838.

40. (34) John Andretti, Chevrolet, 178.731.

41. (7) Robby Gordon, Toyota, 178.341.

42. (96) Bobby Labonte, Ford, Owner Points.

43. (71) David Gilliland, Chevrolet, 177.942.<

Failed to Qualify

44. (64) Mike Wallace, Toyota, 177.643.

45. (51) Dexter Bean, Dodge, 177.119.

46. (37) Tony Raines, Chevrolet, 177.026.

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