Monday morning NASCAR recap: Brian Vickers has feel good moment at New Hampshire


Brian Vickers may not have a full-time ride in NASCAR’s premiere series, but after a victory Sunday at New Hampshire, that will likely change.

Three years ago, Brian Vickers didn't know if he would ever race again after blood clots were discovered in his lungs and legs.

At the beginning of last season and without a ride, he wondered if his NASCAR career was over. His Red Bull team had shuttered its doors and the then 28-year-old was a polarizing figure in the garage following a series of incidents with Matt Kenseth that cumulated with Vickers intentionally wrecking him at Phoenix.

In both instances, Vickers persevered.

"When your back is against the wall and everything is down and things are not looking so good, you find out quickly who is willing to vouch for you or not," Vickers said, following his third-career victory Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "I learned a lot through that experience personally and I grew a lot as a person myself."

And when Michael Waltrip Racing needed a driver for the No. 55 car for select races, it was Vickers who got the call -- fittingly after another driver had turned down the offer.

It has been an opportunity Vickers has made the most of. In his first start with the team, he nearly won at Bristol, leading 125 laps and finishing fifth. He followed with four more top 10s in seven races.

Although Joe Gibbs Racing did sign him to drive one of its Nationwide Series cars, a full-time Sprint Cup ride for this season continued to elude him. His only option was again as a fill-in at MWR for Mark Martin.

But the team liked what they saw in Vickers and made it known that it wanted him behind the wheel of the 55 car full-time in 2014. However, as has been the case throughout his career, there were more hurdles to overcome.

Longtime MWR sponsor Aaron's, however, still needed to be sold on the idea. As the weeks have gone by with no announcement, speculation was that the organization was considering other alternatives.

But if any doubt remained whether Vickers was the right choice to succeed Martin, those apprehensions should evaporate following his triumph Sunday.

It was a gritty drive by Vickers, whose day was not without challenges. During an early pit stop, a crewmember made a mistake leading to a penalty and costing the driver a lap in the process.

Yet like he has done on numerous occasions, he battled back.

With a handful of laps remaining Vickers reeled in leader Tony Stewart and assumed the point. Then on a green-white-checkered restart he executed a power move in Turn 1 to fend off a charge from Kyle Busch to secure the win.

"With everything that's happened ... sitting in Victory Lane, just makes it one of the most special events of my life," Vickers said.

As the celebration commenced the only thing missing was for MWR to formally offer Vickers a contract for next season. That seems like a certainty now.

"All I can tell you is wins help a lot of business issues, and so this was a great day for that," said MWR general manager Ty Norris.

There are no guarantees, however, something Vickers knows all too well. So while driver and team want to continue their relationship the fine print still needs to be ironed out to secure sponsorship.

But these are issues for another time.

For now in the immediate aftermath, Vickers is going to relish the moment; a moment he wasn't sure he would experience again.

"Just to be back in a race car for me personally was a big goal and a big accomplishment and a big step," Vickers said. "And it was because no one around me would let me give up on myself.

"Obviously being able to win after all that is just almost unimaginable. It's so beyond what I was thinking about in that moment; just getting back into a race car was all I could think about."

It was a win he certainly earned.

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