Two years ago, I thought it was over for Brian Vickers.
With news of health problems, Red Bull Racing shutting down, and constant run-ins with Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart, it was hard to imagine Vickers going somewhere. Personally, I wanted to see him in a car. Realistically, the odds weren’t in his favor.
Until Michael Waltrip and Joe Gibbs called.
Pairing Vickers with Mark Martin was a fantastic move. The perfect mix of youth and experience. Both learn off each other while sharing the car. With Waltrip as the owner, it was clear this a recipe for success and fun. On the Nationwide side, his connections to Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Elliott Sadler paved the way for top tens and fives.
This year, talk of 2014 and Martin stepping down has risen, and you can guess who they want to take over. However, Waltrip continuously says sponsorship is an issue and that Aaron’s doesn’t know what it wants.
I believe it’s safe to say that, if Aaron’s doesn’t want Vickers, then they’re making a huge mistake.
What we saw at New Hampshire was a driver racing for a ride and a win. He is such a aggressive guy, but he does it quietly. Meticulously. Something he’s learned at his time at MWR and JGR.
Bottom line: I was wrong. And I’m happy I was.
It was less than 20 to go when we saw The Sheriff come into the lead. Hanging around all day, he was finally battled and overthrew Tony Stewart. When his car breathed in the clean air, he was gone.
Well, until the caution flew for debris with 5 to go. That made my heart drop.
There was no doubt that it would get hairy. Stewart was running low on fuel, Kyle Busch was in third and stitches, and drivers in the back were antsy. When the ‘green-white-checkered’ began, I thought it would end up as a ‘go-wreck-caution,’ but it didn’t.
Cars in the back went three, four-wide. Stewart ran out of gas. Vickers takes the checkered flag. The world doesn’t explode.
Now, some big stories from the race:
Johnson claims top ten after starting last. Awh Hell, Superman did it again. Even early-race cautions couldn’t deter the no. 48 team from shooting to sixth. Maybe they should start last every week? You know, to make it far to everyone else.
Stenhouse Jr. and Patrick bump, spin. No, this isn’t the title of a tabloid spread; Danica Patrick got into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. during the race, ruining both their runs. Such a sad day for SparkleHouse lovers everywhere.
Labonte and Burton race like it’s 2000. At one point during the race, Bobby Labonte and Jeff Burton were battling for fifth. Holy flashback, Batman. Did anyone else hear the sound of walkers clanging? The two were racing towards the front like there was a sale on denture cream in Victory Lane.
All joking aside, it was a decent race with an extraordinary winner who broke a 75-race winless streak. Cheers to you, Sheriff.
Point Standings after New Hampshire
1. Jimmie Johnson (–)
2. Clint Bowyer (-56)
3. Carl Edwards (-73)
4. Kevin Harvick (-74)
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-118)
6. Matt Kenseth (-120)
6. Kyle Busch (-120)
8. Greg Biffle (-151)
9. Brad Keselowski (-167)
10. Kasey Kahne (-173)
11. Martin Truex Jr. (-175)
11. Jeff Gordon (-175)