NASCAR: ‘He’s been through one hell of a road’
By Tina Akouris firstname.lastname@example.org July 20, 2013 6:56PM
Brian Vickers celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., on July 14. | AP Photo
Updated: August 22, 2013 7:01AM
It’s been three years since Brian Vickers had to take himself out of a race car, when doctors found blood clots in his leg and lungs.
But the emotion of nearly losing his life hasn’t left Vickers or his fellow NASCAR drivers.
Vickers will race his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in Sunday’s STP 300 Nationwide race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, a week after winning the Sprint Cup race at Loudon for Michael Waltrip Racing. He is running a part-time Cup schedule this season.
Besides trying to win the STP 300, Vickers is also entered in NASCAR’s Dash for Cash program where he could win an additional $100,000.
“This past week was more than a good week for a lot of reasons,” Vickers said. “The win was very special for me and the whole team.”
It was the third Cup victory of his career and first since winning at Michigan in 2009.
Vickers sits sixth in the Nationwide point standings through 17 races and has seven top fives and nine top 10 finishes. His best Nationwide finishes were seconds at Dover and last week at Loudon.
Vickers turned a faster practice time in the morning session Saturday, with a speed of 171.958 miles per hour. He also had the second best 10-consecutive lap average speed of 168.949 mph.
It’s a feel-good story, especially when Vickers is reminded of that health scare in 2010 that led to heart surgery.
Vickers announced in May 2010 that he had to sit out the rest of the season because doctors found blood clots in his left leg, lungs and a finger. Then tests determined that Vickers had a hole in his heart and he underwent surgery that summer. If Vickers had not had the surgery, he could have had a stroke.
Vickers’ medical issue was something that shook up some drivers.
“When Brian got sick and had to get out of the car, we all looked at each other and thought, ‘Man, I don’t know if we could do that,’ ” said the 2012 STP 300 champion Elliott Sadler.
“We appreciated Brian taking care of himself first and going through the steps to come back and be a winner on the Cup series. People don’t understand what that takes. He’s been through one hell of a road.”
Vickers wouldn’t use the word vindication to describe his Loudon victory. He seems more grateful than anything.
“It was (about) enjoying the moment,” Vickers said. “I’m very thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to get back into a race car and race again. Period.”