Brian Vickers No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Phoenix Preview

Three drivers in the first three races — 11th in owner points.

That phrase sums up the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota’s 2015 season so far at Michael Waltrip Racing.

In a sport that places a premium on communication between the race team and driver, success with that much change is rare.

“I think it is tribute to the guys on this race team, the folks at MWR  as well as the three drivers who came in here and worked hard to make this a success,” said second-year crew chief Billy Scott.

“We certainly didn’t plan to begin our season like this, but once we learned of Brian’s (Vickers) heart surgery everyone has done a good job adapting to a new plan.”

After announcing in December that Vickers would miss the season’s first two races, MWR and Aaron’s implemented a plan that saw two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip drive in the Daytona 500. Following Waltrip’s 26th-place finish in the season-opener, 22-year-old Brett Moffitt drove the No. 55 to an eighth-place finish at Atlanta.

Vickers made his return last weekend finishing 15th at Las Vegas.

“A lot of the crew on the Aaron’s team worked here in 2012 and 2013 when we rotated Mark Martin, Brian and Michael in the No. 55. It’s a big adjustment when you do that, but everyone has a great attitude and we made it work.”

Scott said having drivers like Waltrip and Moffitt who are familiar with the cars and MWR crew, both at the track and at the shop, “sped up a lot of the communication.”

In addition, quick pit stops have played a key factor in 2015.

Make no mistake, as pleased as the team is with its early success, it believes there is a lot of work to be done. Missing two races will likely require Vickers to win a race or run well enough to make up a point deficit to qualify for NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“Our plan is for Brian to win a race,” said Scott. “That’s always been the way we race here. We will probably take a few more chances for victory than many who have the luxury to rely on points. I mean we can still make up the points from the first two races with Brian, but all of us would sure rather win a race.”

The team’s next chance comes Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.


Speedway Digest Staff

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