Engine change vexes pole-winning Vickers


Brian Vickers thought he finally had some good news to override the controversy of the past week.

The 25-year-old Red Bull Racing driver won the pole for Sunday's Auto Club 500 in Fontana, Calif., barely beating heavily favored Jimmie Johnson.

But, about an hour after taking the sixth pole of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career with a lap of 183.429 mph, Vickers found out his team would have to change the engine in his No. 83 Toyota, sending him to the back of the 43-car field.

He still will be listed as the pole winner, but he will drop out of line when the cars start moving Sunday and fall to the back, while Johnson, whose fast lap was 183.164, gets to lead the field to the green flag.

The pole would have been big for Vickers, especially in the wake of the Daytona 500 controversy that was sparked when Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Vickers collided, setting off a 10-car crash.

Vickers had forced Earnhardt below the yellow out-of-bounds line on the 2.5-mile Daytona oval, and Earnhardt turned back up the banking and hit Vickers, igniting the multicar crash and a whole lot of finger pointing.

Johnson has three wins on the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval.

Jamie McMurray was third at 182.653, followed by Kurt Busch at 182.556, Greg Biffle at 182.302, Jeff Gordon at 182.209, David Reutimann at 182.089 and AJ Allmendinger, the fastest of the drivers who had to qualify on speed, at 182.048.

Rookie Scott Speed, Vickers' teammate, was ninth at 181.965, and Kyle Busch, who won the pole for today's Camping World Truck Series race earlier in the day, rounded out the top 10 at 181.919.

Tony Stewart was 11th at 181.901, and Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth was 24th at 180.818.

Failing to make the lineup were Todd Bodine, Tony Raines, David Starr, Mike Garvey and Sterling Marlin.

INDYCAR -- Danica Patrick says no one from the new American Formula One team has contacted her, and she has no plans to leave the IndyCar Series.

Ken Anderson, one of the principals in the team that formally will be announced next week in Charlotte, N.C., has said Patrick is a candidate to fill one of the team's seats.

Patrick said Friday the team's interest flatters her but that she is happy where she is.

"You know, it starts with a phone call, and I haven't heard anything," said Patrick, a fan favorite who won her first IndyCar race last year in Japan. "It's funny how these things get going. But I'm happy driving in the IndyCar Series."

NHRA -- Larry Dixon led Top Fuel qualifying at the Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals in Chandler, Ariz., with a 3.807-second run at 313.95 mph.

Dixon rebounded after failing to qualify in the season opener at Pomona, Calif.

Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also topped their divisions in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.

 

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