Vickers moves on with victory
By finally winning in NASCAR’s top division again, Brian Vickers thinks he might be able to finally put a lid on the days when thought his racing career was in jeopardy.
Some of those days came when he was undergoing treatment for a blood clots and a heart condition that caused him to miss most of the 2010 season. He came back in 2011 but he then faced more uncertainty at the end of that year when his team folded.
Vickers chose to take a part-time gig in Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyotas because he felt that it provided the best opportunity to win, even though Mark Martin would be in the car most of the time. He proved that assessment corrected when he took the checkered flag Sunday in New Hampshire, a victory that helps turn the page in his career and was the team’s first under the ride-sharing plan.
“I suppose in a lot of ways, it does,” Vickers said on Sunday. “I don’t want to forget those memories and the things that I learned through those experiences, even though they were difficult and challenging. You know, I think at a certain point it is good to shut the door on some things and look for it and move on.
“I don’t know if the monkey on your back is really the right expression; but to finally get that victory. It’s one thing to get back in a race car; it’s another thing to have a good day, but it’s a whole another thing to win a race. This day in a whole lot of ways takes the weight off my shoulders and is a breath of fresh air and very relieving and probably does allow me to live a little bit more in the moment and focus on the future, and not so much in the past and what’s happened.”
By winning for the first time since 2009 and for the third time in his career, Vickers accomplished another goal that he set with he was sick.
He still has one huge objective to mark off his checklist -- winning a championship.
With the victory on Sunday, he moved into position to possibly do that on one level by putting the No. 55 team in the mix to gain a wild-card berth in the 10-race Chase for the car owners championship at the end of the season, which is different from the Chase for the drivers championship.
But, the prize that he really desires is winning a Sprint Cup drivers title. To do that, he must find a full-time ride once again. It appears that he might get that chance in the No. 55 next season.
“If I had to have a crystal ball, that’s where we’d want to go and that’s what I see in the future for sure,” MWR general manager Ty Norris said.
Norris and Vickers both said whatever happens is in the hands of Aaron’s, the team’s primary sponsor.
“I’m sure that a win helps,” Vickers said. “But it doesn’t mean that the deal magically happens.”
He was also quite humble celebrating the win, much as he was while driving Hooters ProCup cars out of the family shop in Thomasville.
“I’m just thankful for everything that had happened and everything that didn’t happen; that I was able to get back into a race car, and that I had the support of family and friends to get through everything and to get back in the car,” Vickers said.
“You know, there were some people who still believed many me, namely everyone at MWR that gave me the chance. I think that was probably the biggest emotion that I had, I have, that I still will have going forward, because they took a chance, in a lot of ways.”