Marcos Ambrose's new crew chief to start this week

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Brian Vickers agreed on a nine-race deal with Michael Waltrip Racing instead of joining Joe Gibbs Racing.  BRIAN CZOBAT/ASSOCIATED PRESS/AUTOSTOCK
BRIAN CZOBAT/ASSOCIATED PRESS/AUTOSTOCK
Brian Vickers agreed on a nine-race deal with Michael Waltrip Racing instead of joining Joe Gibbs Racing.

Drew Blickensderfer will get a three-race head start on next year as Marcos Ambrose’s new crew chief for the No. 9 Ford at Richard Petty Motorsports.

Blickensderfer left Jeff Burton’s team at Richard Childress Racing after last Sunday’s race at Martins­ville Speedway. He will be in Ambrose’s pit stall for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“Drew has a lot of experience with Ford Racing and also how our current operation works,” Petty said. “His knowledge can immediately improve the performance of the No. 9 race team. Marcos has proved to win races and compete in the top five. The addition of Drew will hopefully provide those results on a more consistent basis.”

Shane Wilson will replace Blickensderfer at RCR for the final three races. Luke Lambert, who currently works with Elliott Sadler’s Nationwide program at RCR, will be Burton’s full-time crew chief in 2013.

Mike Ford, who was Denny Hamlin’s crew chief last year, left Petty’s team after working as crew chief for both Ambrose and Aric Almirola.

TRACKS SPARED: Three race tracks in the path of superstorm Sandy – Dover International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway – were spared any significant damage.

Dover was just south of the storm’s direct impact, but there wasn’t a lot of damage. One of the steeples atop the main grandstands was toppled during the storm. The structure was built to resemble the steeples at Churchill Downs.

Pocono, which is 100 miles west of New York City, also was without power on Tuesday.

The storm veered westerly after making landfall late Monday, and that kept New Hampshire far enough north of its destructive path.

STILL PART-TIME: Although he had talked with Joe Gibbs Racing about a full-time ride in the Nationwide Series next year, Brian Vickers accepted a nine-race schedule to remain at Michael Waltrip Racing.

Vickers, who made eight appearances in the No. 55 Toyota this year while sharing the driving duties with Mark Martin and Waltrip, said he hopes the move will make him the No. 1 candidate for the job if, and when, Martin finally retires.

Martin originally planned to retire before the 2006 season, but he’s put it off every year.

NOT APPROVED: Nur Ali was not approved by NASCAR to run the Nationwide Series race this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

Ali struggled in his Oct. 20 NASCAR debut at Kansas, where he crashed and finished 33rd in the Nationwide race.

He is the first driver of Pakistani descent to compete at NASCAR’s national level.


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