Former full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brian Vickers is looking to continue his road back to the Sprint Cup with another good run at one of the hardest tracks the series goes to, Bristol Motor Speedway. Recall that last year at Bristol, during the fall race; Vickers had one of the drives of his career at the Sprint Cup level.
This was a drive that Vickers needed. After the collapse of Red Bull Racing and Vickers return to racing after a life-altering blood clot, opportunities within both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series where thin. But team owner Michael Waltrip gave Vickers the opportunity to drive the remainder of the schedule for part-time driver Mark Martin. And in top-tier equipment, Vickers not only didn’t disappoint, he impressed fans and other drivers alike.
The first race of the season last year for Vickers was at the old iteration of Bristol Motor Speedway. Vickers led 125 laps on the way to an unexpected top five finish. With the track repaved, Vickers once again finished in the top five during the fall race.
Although things will certainly be different as the Sprint Cup Series and the Generation Six car visit the high banks of Thunder Alley, Vickers will be a favorite to once again have an impressive run. Vickers learning curve will certainly be steeper than the rest of the field, as the laps he turns in practice will be his first laps in the new car.
However, Vickers has some impressive career stats to go along with the chip on his shoulder he will be driving with this season. Vickers scored the most points (81) last season at Bristol, and five top-ten finishes last season. Michael Waltrip Racing has had some impressive stats to open this season, with one pole, one top five, and three top-ten finishes with 98 laps led.
Vickers himself sits seventh in the Nationwide Series standings, with one top five finish and 39 laps led. While Vickers continues his march back up the Sprint Cup ranks, he will need to solidify himself among the best, meaning good finishes on difficult tracks such as Bristol. When the checkered flag drops Sunday, look for the 55 car to be somewhere near the front, and if that is the case, be ready to hear about Brian Vickers when silly season rolls around this winter.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486