(WOMR file photo)
The one Michael Waltrip Racing driver that was thought to be one of the favorites to win the Camping World RV Sales 301 was nowhere close to Victory Lane Sunday. However, the one driver least likely to win, stole the show, the race, and chauffeured his MWR #55 Aaron’s Dream Machine in Victory Lane to celebrate! That is right, Brian Vickers, one of the part-time drivers of the MWR #55 Toyota, won the race today!
It has taken Brian Vickers three difficult seasons to get his comeback into high gear. He finally made it to the top of the heap Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, pulling away from Kyle Busch on an overtime restart to win the Camping World RV Sales 301.
As he crossed under the checkered flags on the final lap, an emotional Vickers radioed, “Thanks for not giving up on me.’’ I am sure that Vickers had many emotional thoughts that was running through his mind on the cool down lap, kind of like a “river of dreams”!
An equally emotional Ty Norris, executive vice president of Michael Waltrip Racing, said, “Welcome back, baby.’’
Vickers earned the third victory of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career, Sunday. The first came in 2006 for Hendrick Motorsports and the second in 2009 for Red Bull. At that point, it appeared Vickers, then 26, was well on the way to a successful Cup career.
But the youngster was sidelined for most of the 2010 season by blood clots, as well as a hole in his heart, which initially threatened his racing future and his life.
He did come back in 2011, driving the full season for Red Bull, but the team folded, and Vickers has had only the part-time ride in Cup with MWR since, driving eight races in 2012 and the same so far this season.
Vickers also became the 11th different winner in the last 11 Cup races at Louden.
Vickers, who has been sharing the MWR entry with Mark Martin and Waltrip, thanked team co-owners Waltrip and Rob Kauffman for giving him the opportunity to keep his Cup career going.
“It couldn’t have been filled with more trials and tribulations, but thanks to so much support from friends and family and, this year, my finance’e. … Man, just thank God for the chance and the opportunity to come back , and this team and (crew chief) Rodney (Childers) and just everyone believing in me and giving me a second chance.’’
Team officials have said they will have only one driver in the #55 Toyota next season and this victory, along with two other top 10 finishes this season have apparently give Vickers a leg up on the ride.
“Nothing is a guarantee in life,’’ Vickers said. “I’ve learned that the hard way. Even when you think it’s done, it’s not done. But (the win) definitely goes a long way.’’
Childers, a longtime family friend of Vickers, was more confident.
“I think it’s pretty much a done deal,’’ the crew chief said.
Norris said Vickers is the guy they would like to hire for 2014 if the sponsorship deal can be worked out.
It was a very popular win, with most of the competitors driving past to congratulate Vickers on the cool-down lap, or coming to Victory Lane to offer their good wishes.
Vickers was not in contention throughout most of the race. A problem in the pits cost him a lap in the early going, but Vickers was able to get back on the lead lap and hang on until series of pit stops under caution shuffled the field for the last 100 laps. That moved Vickers into the top 10.
He took full advantage of the situation, catching and passing leader Tony Stewart with 14 laps to go in regulation and hanging on to beat Kyle Busch to the finish line by 0.582-seconds, about 10 car lengths.
Check out the unofficial results of the Camping World RV Sales 301.
Check out the Sprint Cup standings after the Camping World RV Sales 301.
Next week the Sprint Cup has their last weekend off of this season. Then it is on to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their one and only race in that facility for the year.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!