This past weekend, Brian Vickers took the place of Denny Hamlin in the Joe Gibbs Racing No.11 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, and was able to pull out a top-10 finish at the Texas track where the No. 11 had won before.
Hamlin made sure he was on the scene to coach his replacement driver throughout the race, and it appears that Hamlin will be out for the very least another race, according to the latest from the JGR driver himself.
While being out for weeks of prime racing is unfortunate for Hamlin, it has been a very good thing for Vickers, who has had a hard time in NASCAR since his disastrous season in 2010 when he was out for most of the season with blood clots in his legs and lungs. In 2009, the year before health problems struck, Vickers was able to pull out a victory as well as six pole positions in his Red Bull Racing ride.
In 2011 Vickers got back in the car to have an average season with three top-five finishes and seven top-10s. However, 2011 would be the last year for Red Bull Racing in NASCAR, and Vickers was be left without a ride for 2012.
He was able to get a part-time ride with Michael Waltrip Racing driving the No 55. In his first appearance at Bristol, he showed a bit more of the old Vickers spark by dominating the race and finishing fifth.
This year, Vickers gained more rides with MWR, even though it’s still not a full season, and is now fortunate to pick up a couple more Sprint Cup races in a great JGR ride.
Over these last two years, Vickers has shown that he belongs in NASCAR. Hopefully the rumors that Mark Martin is retiring are true and Vickers can have a full-season ride in 2014.