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Vickers wins another pole

| Saturday, June 20, 2009

SONOMA, Calif. -- There was little celebrating at Red Bull Racing after Brian Vickers won his second consecutive pole.

Instead, team management was busy securing a deal to get rookie Scott Speed in the field.

Vickers claimed the top starting spot with a strong run Friday through the road course at Infineon Raceway, but his teammate missed the race when Speed ran off the course in Turn 10 and failed to qualify.

"What do they say, 'It's the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat?' " general manager Jay Frye said. "One's first, and one went home, so it's pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum."

Frye worked a deal with Joe Nemechek, who qualified 31st, to put Speed in his car for Sunday's race. Nemechek races in old Red Bull cars and qualified in one of their Toyotas from last season.

Red Bull, which also borrowed his car for Speed at Darlington last month, will cut Nemechek a later deal as payment for the Sonoma favor.

"I came here to race, but I told them, 'Hey, whatever you need me to do,' " Nemechek said of turning over his ride.

Speed, a former Formula One driver with a tremendous amount of road course experience, was having a strong run that would have solidly put him in the field when he overdrove his car and went off course. Although he saved it from a wreck, it sunk his qualifying chances.

"We needed a layup," Frye said, "and he went for the slam-dunk."

Vickers, meanwhile, won his fourth pole of the season. His lap of 93.678 mph in a Toyota gave him the top starting spot for the second consecutive week: he also won the pole last weekend at Michigan, where he finished ninth.

"Qualifying has never been my best here," Vickers said. "I've always tried to attack the curbs and use the curbs, and you always make a mistake. You make a mistake at a road course, and you leave a lot on the table. We wanted to make no mistakes.

"I was just really cautious and hit my marks and not the curbs, and it paid off."

Vickers edged defending race winner Kyle Busch, who ran a lap at 93.415 mph to qualify second.

Marcos Ambrose qualified third to give Toyotas the top three qualifying spots.

Tony Stewart qualified fourth in a Chevrolet and was followed by Kasey Kahne in a Dodge. Martin Truex Jr. was sixth and was followed by Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Boris Said and Matt Kenseth, who was the highest qualifying Ford.

Three-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson was 11th, and rookie Joey Logano was 12th. Five-time Sonoma winner Jeff Gordon was 13th.

Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2007 race winner here, qualified 17th.

Speed was one of four drivers who didn't make the race. The others were Tom Hubert, Chris Cook and Brian Simo.

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