NASCAR: Driver Brian Vickers sees positives in Chase revamp, Chicagoland Speedway changes
By Tina Akouris firstname.lastname@example.org February 18, 2014 3:42PM
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 15: Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Updated: February 18, 2014 7:34PM
Brian Vickers can look around the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit and see what other tracks are doing to lure fans new and old. So it’s no surprise to Vickers that Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet is making similar enhancements to its structure.
When Vickers brings his No. 55 Toyota into Joliet for the Sept. 15 GEICO 400, the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, he’s going to see a new version of the Chase and a new portion of the Speedway.
The grandstands in Turn 1 are in the process of being torn down to make way for the Green Flag Garage. The stands in Turn 4 also are being removed for another fan zone.
“I didn’t know (Chicagoland) was doing that and I think it’s great,” Vickers said via phone Tuesday from Daytona, Fla., where he’s preparing for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“We’re seeing (more fan areas). There was just a big renovation at Daytona, but it’s a constant evolution and it’s for the fans — because they’re not doing it for us.”
And the Chase format will have more drivers when the green flag drops on the GEICO 400 — 16 instead of 12 — ending in a winner-take-all format for the championship in November.
Vickers also thinks the new Chase format may change how drivers prepare for race day, including the GEICO 400.
“It changes a lot of things,” Vickers said of the Chase. “I think this is a good change, and the biggest question is going to be the last race and how it is going to play out. The focus on winning is going to be fantastic for the sport.”
By the time Vickers gets to Joliet, he’s hoping to be one of those 16 Chase drivers. More important, Vickers just wants to race a complete season.
Vickers sat out part of the 2010 season because of blood clots and an ensuing heart surgery. After returning, Vickers raced partial Cup schedules for the next three seasons, before a blood clot in his right leg sidelined him in October.
“I feel great right now. This has been a passion for me and I want to raise awareness,” Vickers said. “The biggest message I have for people is to be aware and get things checked out. I finished my treatment at the end of January and get back in the race car and get ready for Daytona.”
Visit www.treatmyclot.com for more information about Vickers and his treatment.