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.

UPDATED: INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama under red-flag race stoppage due to rain

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UPDATE: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is under a red-flag race stoppage after 19 laps due to rain and puddling on the racing surface at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cleaners and dryers are on the track to try and get some of the water off the racing surface. The low spots on the track, as well as the front stretch, have been particularly troublesome and led to several spinouts and at least two wrecks (Charlie Kimball and outside front pole sitter Will Power).

Power’s day is done after suffering irreparable damage to the left side of his car after hydroplaning on the front straight and running into the inside retaining wall.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Although rain has been falling for nearly an hour and the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course is drenched, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is underway on NBCSN.

The start of the race was moved up from 3:38 p.m. ET to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.

Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of this race and also will start from the pole for today’s race.

While the race is scheduled for 90 laps, there’s a possibility that if the weather worsens or if lightning appears, it could potentially be shortened to just two hours.

As can be expected, all cars are on rain tires to maximize grip.

Catch the race live on NBCSN.