Vickers: Last 2 races will be “a battle” for drivers not locked in Chase

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Down 73 points in the Chase standings and without a win, Brian Vickers knows that the pressure is on for him and several other Chase hopefuls to get a victory in the final two races of the Sprint Cup regular season.

“It’s gonna be a battle,” Vickers acknowledged today at Atlanta Motor Speedway before qualifying for Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500.

“It’s gonna be intense these next two races knowing that it’s not just about the guys on the cusp for points, it’s about anyone that can win. The intensity’s gonna kick in.

“But to be honest, it’s been there all year. Every week you show up, you’re goal is to win and you’re gonna do everything you can to try and get that win.”

Vickers has been steady in recent years at Atlanta with six Top-10 finishes in his last eight starts there. But another result like that will be of little help to him as he looks for a last minute break-through.

Not helping Vickers is Toyota’s overall power deficit behind its rivals, particularly those with Hendrick motors such as Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing, and Chip Ganassi Racing.

When asked where his Michael Waltrip Racing team stood on horsepower compared to the Hendrick camp, Vickers would only say that Hendrick had them beat in that regard “by a lot.”

“They’re strong right now, and it’s tough,” Vickers conceded. “But hopefully, one day, we’ll be on the other side of that cycle and they’ll be chasing us. But right now, for whatever reason, they’ve definitely got everyone beat in the engine department.”

Unfortunately for Vickers, time is running out on his post-season hopes, and he can’t wait for Toyota to come up with a performance boost.

MRTI: Juncos signs Carlos Cunha for Pro Mazda campaign

Photo: Juncos Racing
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Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.

Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.

“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”

Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”

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