No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine driver Brian Vickers drove a Ferrari 458 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012 and has enjoyed a few other endurance races in his career.
But Vickers said nothing compares to Sunday night’s 600-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The longest race on the NASCAR schedule took 4:35:49 hours last year.
“When you really think about it, it’s probably one of the longest professional racing stints for a single driver in the world,” said Vickers.
“You have a lot of 24 hour races, which I have been fortunate to be able to run some of them, but nowhere in those 24 hour races do you see one driver in a car for four or more hours straight. Typically, they’re only in the car for one hour. To an extent, even though the race is not as long as say the 24 hour races, the time you are in the car continuously in the 600 is longer.”
Vickers said the challenge is as much mental as it is physical. The days of taking it easy then racing the final 100 miles are over. The approach now is like a 600-mile sprint to the finish.
“The 600 is a long race for man and machine for sure. The technology has come so far from what it used to be -- I notice that a lot more people finish it. I think it certainly tests your physical ability, but also your mental ability just to stay focused and to not only be physically capable of running the full race, but to mentally stay with it too. It’s a long race.”
The Michael Waltrip Racing team brings a great deal of optimism into Sunday’s race. During Saturday’s eighth-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Vickers turned the fastest lap on the track five times during the 90-lap event.
“I think we learned a lot. I think we’re going to take a lot of notes and a lot of information from the All-Star race to the 600. We have a good car and a lot of laps we were the fastest car on the race track. If we can just do that for 600 miles Sunday then we’ll be good.”
Cars practice and qualify Thursday, practice Saturday and the race begins at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.