Moonlighting: Part Timer Brian Vickers Wins Sprint Cup Camping World RV Sales 301 At NHMS

LOUDON, N.H. – Brian Vickers has been fighting for the last two seasons to secure a full-time return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Brian Vickers celebrates Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after winning the Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 (Photo: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway he may have just punched his ticket back into a regular seat in the series.

Vickers held off a charging Kyle Busch on a green-white-checkered restart to win the Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The race was extended to 302 laps because of a late caution. Busch held on for second and Jeff Burton was third.

It was the third career Sprint Cup Series victory for Vickers and his first since Aug. 16, 2009 at Michigan International Speedway.

“Coming here and sitting in victory lane just makes it one of the most special events of my life,” Vickers said.

Between Sprint Cup Series victories, Vickers has lived a whirlwind of lows.

In 2010 he had to step out of his regular series ride with Red Bull Racing 11 races into the season when he was diagnosed with life-threatening blood clot issues that required heart surgery.

Vickers returned to the series full-time with Red Bull Racing in 2011, but he was left without a ride when the team shut down following that season.

Last year he made eight Sprint Cup starts for Michael Waltrip Racing, recording three top-five finishes and five top-10’s for the organization. He shared the ride with Mark Martin, who made 24 starts in the car, and team owner Michael Waltrip, who made four starts.

He returned to the part-time role in the Sprint Cup with Michael Waltrip Racing this year, while also taking over a full-time Nationwide Series ride with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Coming into Sunday’s race at New Hampshire he had made four Sprint Cup starts this year for Michael Waltrip Racing and three starts with Joe Gibbs Racing in relief of an injured Denny Hamlin.

“Everything that I’ve gone through over the last so many years, the blood clots – to wake up morning and you’re just hoping to be around the next – to, are you ever going to race again? To, OK I may race again, to, alright I’m racing but I don’t have a job. To, getting a phone call from [Michael Waltrip Racing general manager Ty Norris] and him asking me if I was interested in running eight races.

“Just to be back in a racecar for me personally was a big goal and a big accomplishment and a big step. It was because no one around me would let me give up on myself. I obviously didn’t give up on myself, but when you have so much love and support around you that makes all the difference in the world. … Being able to win after all that is almost unimaginable.”

Vickers is scheduled to run a total of nine Sprint Cup events for Michael Waltrip Racing this season.

“Hopefully it will be way more than that going into the future,” Norris said.

Addressing the question of whether or not Vickers could be in the car full-time next year Norris said: “Wins help a lot of business issues.”

The Busch brothers were the dominant force in the early going, with Kurt and Kyle combing to lead 111 of the 123 laps of the event.

Kurt Busch looked to have the car to beat for much of the first half of the race, but his day went bad he was involved in a wreck with Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth on lap 226

Vickers moved past Kyle Busch to take over second on lap 283 and on lap 288 he went by Stewart to the lead for the first time on the day.

With Vickers looking like he was cruising easily to the win, debris on the track brought out the 12th and final caution of the day on lap 297 with Stewart running second and Kyle Busch third.

On the lap 301 restart, Vickers in the high lane had the advantage as Kyle Busch tried to make a banzai move low under Stewart into turn one. Kyle Busch was able to move to second as Stewart’s car sputtered out of gas on the penultimate lap, but Vickers had gained too much for Kyle Busch to mount a challenge for the lead.

“I don’t know, I think we were the fastest car here today,” Kyle Busch said. “Definitely on the shorter run I just, I guess I burn the front tires off it when we’re here. I don’t know what the deal is. We’re out front, we’re leading, we’re doing fine and we get to lapped traffic and I can’t turn any more. It just accustomed to how my driving style is I guess. I hate it because we had such a great racecar here and [this car] was awesome today and these guys deserve to be in victory lane.

Despite the aggressive move on the final restart, Kyle Busch said he didn’t think he had any shot at Vickers

“We didn’t have a chance,” Kyle Busch said. “Vickers taking the outside [lane on the restart] was going to be the car to beat. [Stewart] running out of gas there, I almost wrecked with him. I just wish the race was two laps longer, maybe Vickers would have run out [of gas] and we would have been able to win the thing. But congratulations to those guys.”

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