Last year, Brian Vickers did what he needed to do at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as he won the event and took his Michael Waltrip Racing team to victory lane. Heading back to the magic mile this weekend, Vickers is hoping to repeat the success and punch his ticket for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“I think we have a really good car,” he commented. “Obviously I like Loudon. Especially a track you win at you’ll always like. We also had a great test up there last week. But I know a lot of other teams tested there as well.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I think we’re definitely capable of winning again. It would be a great place to have a repeat win and lock ourselves into the Chase.”
Last year’s win at New Hampshire will always rank as a “special” win for Vickers as it marked his first win with MWR and Vickers says it felt great from the fact that they had supported him through everything and anything.
“I think the biggest thing was, you know, kind of in Victory Lane reflecting back to a couple years earlier when I was sitting in a hospital not sure if I’d ever race again, being told there was a good chance that would never happen again,” Vickers explained. “Through the support of so many friends and family and people like Michael to give me a chance, Toyota helping me and supporting me through the process, a good team behind me, got me back in into a car, got me not only back into the Sprint Cup Series but got me back into Victory Lane. That’s probably the biggest lingering memories from the win and why it means so much.
“As for the burnout, I thought we ran out of fuel. We actually found out afterwards something happened with the control unit, and it just shut down like right in the middle of the burnout, the engine cut out and wouldn’t restart. It was just a computer glitch for whatever reason. It was pretty bad timing to have that happen. I was really pumped to melt the tires down. But better to happen in the burnout than the last lap, right?”
Vickers comes into this year’s event with momentum on his side as this past weekend at Daytona, Vickers put himself into position to win the event, though would end up finishing second to Aric Almirola. The driver of the No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota was very critical of NASCAR post-race in their decision to call their race so soon in the afternoon. Moving forward, Vickers said that it would be nice to have some guidelines in place in understanding NASCAR’s decision to call the race or not.
“I think having some guidelines in place to say, Listen, at this track on a Sunday we will race until this time, on a Monday we’ll race until this time. Just kind of knowing that going in because you may make different decisions,” he commented. “I mean, the weather obviously is always a variable, it’s always changing. Even when the weather service says it’s supposed to rain doesn’t mean it’s going to rain. Even when they say it’s not going to rain doesn’t mean it won’t. There’s a reason they always say, 70% or 40% or 30% chance of rain because, you know, there’s no way to know for sure.
“I think obviously I’m sure if I was sitting in Victory Lane I probably would have been fine with the decision to call the race. But when you’re second with a chance to win, you obviously want to go racing. That’s that. It is what it is at this point. We’ll move on to Loudon.”
In moving forward, though, Vickers is still disappointed in not having a real shot to possibly take the win, though also understands how much the finish means to the team after the stretch of bad luck and poor finishes that they have suffered.
“But, listen, there was just as good of a chance that we went back green and ended up with a worse position than second. Probably a greater chance that we were going to be worse than second than better than second,” Vickers added. “From a mathematical standpoint you have to kind of walk away and say that was a good day and move on. But as a competitor and racer, you want to win.
“I wanted to win. I wanted a shot to win, just a chance. I felt that the guys on the Aaron’s team did a great job, ran a smart race, good calls in the pits, and put ourselves in a position to win.”