Brian Lee Vickers (born October 24, 1983) is an American NASCAR driver who last drove #14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet as a substitute driver for Tony Stewart in 2016. Vickers was the 2003 Busch Series champion, and at age 20, was the youngest champion in any of NASCAR's three top-tier series until Chase Elliott in 2014. He currently is an analyst for NASCAR on NBC.
Vickers began running go-karts in 1994. Over the next three years, he won eighty races in the World Karting Association, and won three championships, including the 1995 championship against three-time winner Mike Schwartz (WKA). In 1998, he moved to the Allison Legacy Series, and won five races during the course of the season. After competing in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series in 1999, he moved to USAR ProCup, winning Rookie of the Year and two races in 2000. The next season, he won five more races and finished second in points.
In 2001, Vickers made his Nationwide Series debut at the GNC Live Well 250 in the #29 owned by his father, Clyde Vickers. He qualified 30th but finished 37th after a crash. Vickers ran three more races that season, his best finish a 25th at North Carolina Speedway. In 2002, Vickers began running the Nationwide Series in his father's #40 Dodge Intrepid. He drove in 21 races, and his best finish was 7th at the Hardee's 250, his only top-ten of the season.
Hendrick Motorsports Edit
Due to a lack of funding for his family-owned team, Vickers was hired to replace Ricky Hendrick in the #5 GMAC Chevrolet, owned by Hendrick Motorsports. Vickers won three races in 2003, and won the championship by 14 points over David Green, becoming the youngest champion in the history of the series at age 20. Vickers made his Cup debut at the 2003 UAW-GM Quality 500, qualifying 20th and finishing 33rd in the #60 Haas Automation Chevy. He ran four more races that season in Hendrick's #25 UAW/Delphi Chevy, qualifying in the top-5 each time, but posting only one top-20 finish.
In 2004, Vickers ran the #25 in the Cup series full-time, carrying sponsorship from Ditech and GMAC. He won two poles, had four top-tens, and finished third behind Brendan Gaughan and Kasey Kahne for Rookie of the Year. The next season, Vickers won the NEXTEL Open exhibition race. He was right behind Mike Bliss on the last lap. He mad an effort to pass Bliss at the last possible moment. Bliss blocked him and they touched bumpers, causing Bliss to spin out and allowing Vickers to win. That qualified him for the annual All-Star Challenge, in which he finished third. Vickers finished the year 17th in Cup points, scoring ten top-tens, including his then-career best finish of second at the Pocono 500. He also returned to the Nationwide Series in a limited capacity in 2005, and finishing third at Watkins Glen in the #5. He drove five other races in the #57.
The season 2006, statistically, was Vickers' best yet. Vickers finished 7th in the Daytona 500, gathered nine top-tens, and got his first victory at the UAW Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. However, the season was marred by conflicts within Hendrick Motorsports. On June 25, Vickers announced that he would leave Hendrick and drive for the new Team Red Bull team in 2007. In the UAW-Ford 500, Vickers was running third when he bumped teammate Jimmie Johnson on the last lap, causing both Johnson (who was second), and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the leader, to spin out. Vickers went on to score his first victory. Johnson was livid with Vickers, and both he and his crew chief Chad Knaus questioned Vickers' motives with the bump, , with Knaus stating that Vickers had "run out of talent" prior to wrecking his teammate. However, both Johnson and Vickers had a long discussion about what had happened and decided that it was best to move on. This was easily conveyed when Vickers came to congratulate Johnson and Johnson gave him a hug when Johnson won the Nextel Cup championship at the Ford 400.
Red Bull Racing Team Edit
In 2007, Vickers drove the #83 Red Bull Toyota Camry for Red Bull, the first season for the new team. His new crew chief for 2007 was Doug Richert, who spent the last three seasons with Greg Biffle and won a championship with Dale Earnhardt. His new teammate at Red Bull was A. J. Allmendinger, driver of the #84 Red Bull Toyota Camry for then named Team red Bull.
This season started out poorly when Vickers suffered a blown tire during his qualifying race for the Daytona 500. The next week the team regrouped, however, and scored a tenth place finish in their first outing, the Auto Club 500, which was coincidentally Toyota's first top 10 in the Nextel Cup series. Two weeks later Vickers led Toyota's first lap in the Nextel Cup series at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
On May 27, 2007, Vickers gave Toyota its first top five ever in Coca-Cola 600. Toyota brought a new engine to Lowe's, and Vickers showed its potential and surprised many by leading more than 70 laps of the race and having the dominant car. However, towards the end of the race, the power steering of the vehicle began to fail, and eventually ceased operation completely. The teams luck continued to decline as Vickers soon blew a tire and slid into the turn four wall. Immediately as Vickers entered pit road, the caution flew for debris on the track, supposedly from his incident. This was a saving grace, as it allowed the #83 car to stay on the lead lap, albeit off the pace and out of contention for the win. Crew chief Doug Richert managed to salvage the race through pit strategy, enabling Vickers to score a fifth place finish.
Late in the 2007 season, crew chief Doug Richert was fired from Team Red Bull and replaced by Randy Cox, who was formerly employed on Team Red Bull's Research and Development team. Vickers struggled for the remainder of the season as Team red Bull began to focus on developing it's Car of Tomorrow program, which would start competing full time during the 2008 season. The resulting inattention to its "current car" program severely hampered Vickers' efforts during the remaining races of that platform.Template:Citation needed
In 2008, Vickers, with new crew chief Kevin Hamlin, qualified for the 50th running of the Daytona 500, after racing himself in with an 11th place finish in the Gatorade Duel 150. He then went on to make the next 4 races with an average finish of 21st including a top 10 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway where he finished 9th. Vickers was outside the top 35 in point all during the 2007 season, which meant he did not have a guaranteed starting spot. However, in 2008, he is now ensured a started sport, for now, since he is in the top 35 after 5 races.
Vickers' pit crew won the 2008 Pit Crew Challenge during the 2008 All-Star weekend. Vickers went on the next weekend and led 61 laps in the 2008 Coca-Cola 600 before he lost his left rear wheel and crashed about halfway through the race.
For the 2009 season, Vickers remained at Team Red Bull, and got a new crew chief, Ryan Pemberton. It was announced he has picked up an additional sponsor in Mighty Auto Parts, formerly with DEI. He won the sixth pole of his career at the spring race at California Speedway.
Vickers' 2009 season began in controversy at the 2009 Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt Jr. got a run to the inside of Vickers, but Vickers blocked. Earnhardt Jr. clipped the left rear fender, getting Vickers loose, sending him into the field. Kyle Busch, who was a very strong contender for the win, had a destroyed car. His brother Kurt, Jimmie Johnson, Scott Speed, Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards, and Robby Gordon were also damaged. Vickers was out of the race. Vickers said after the race that Earnhardt should have been black-flagged, due to an incident involving Jason Leffler,and Steven Wallace the previous day. Earnhardt later stated that he was unaware that Vickers was a lap down, and that both were fighting for the Lucky Dog position. Earnhardt later apologized.
Vickers ran in the top five all day during the 2009 Kobalt Tools 500. In the final laps, Vickers was chasing down Kurt Busch for the win, but Robby Gordon blew a tire and Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards flew by Vickers on the restart. Vickers finished fifth.
Vickers won the pole at Richmond, a place where he had set the track record previously.
On June 10, 2009, Team Red Bull pulled off an amazing pit stop...all in the middle of downtown NYC. Brian pulled the #83 Red Bull Toyota Camry to the side of the road and the team changed 4 tires right in Times Square with traffic still moving around them. Onlookers cheered while wondering what in the world was going on.
Again Vickers won the pole for the Lifelock 400 at Michigan.
On Thursday July 9, Brian Vickers won his 5th pole of the season at the Lifelock.com 400 at Chicagoland speedway.
On Friday August 14 Brian Vickers won his 6th pole of the season at the CARFAX 400 at Michigan. However in the Nationwide race he got into a fight with Kyle Busch, as they had both lead many laps of the race, but Brad Keselowski won as they were busy fighting for position. After the race Vickers said, "Oh man, I tell you, I am so sorry, I forgot it was the Kyle Busch show" and said if Busch wants to whine he can, Vickers thought they were racing.
On Sunday August 16, Vickers won the CARFAX 400 from the pole for his second career Sprint Cup victory, the Red Bull Racing Team's first victory, and Toyota's first victory at Michigan International Speedway. He did so after a late race gamble of not going in to take a pit during the race's final caution. A few other drivers did this too, including Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, and Jimmie Johnson. On the final restart, Vickers was first and Johnson was second. With a little over 40 laps to go, Vickers stayed behind Jonhson most of the time, trying to save fuel. With just over 3 laps to go, Jonhson ran out of fuel, while Vickers barely had enough to claim the win and do a few burnouts before his car ran out of fuel in the infield.
On Tuesday August 18, Vickers resigned a multi-year extension with Red Bull Racing Team
After finishing a career high seventh at the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond, Vickers clinched the 2009 chase.
On May 13, 2010, it was announced that Vickers, who had earned three top 10s in the first 11 races, would not be participating in the [Autism Speaks 400|Autism Speaks 400] at [International Speedway|Dover International Speedway] due to an undisclosed medical condition, later revealed to be blood clots in his legs and around his lungs. [Mears|Casey Mears] was announced as his replacement. This ended a streak of 87 consecutive starts, which dated back to Atlanta in 2007. Vickers hoped to run a handful of laps before handing the car over to a relief driver in order to earn points, but was not medically cleared.
On May 21, 2010, six days after being released from a hospital for the aforementioned blood clot issue, it was announced that Vickers would miss the remainder of the season. His replacements were Casey Mears, Reed Sorenson, [Ekstrom|Mattias Ekstrom], Boris Said, and Kasey Kahne. Vickers' abbreviated 2010 season consisted of three top 10's in eleven races.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Health Conditions Remove Vickers". David Caraviello (14 May 2010). Retrieved on 16 May 2010.
- ↑ Sporting News Wire Service (2010-06-07). "Ekstrom earns Cup ride for Red Bull Racing at Infineon – Jun 7, 2010". Nascar.Com. Retrieved on 2010-10-24.
- ↑ "Blood Clots End Vickers's Season", The New York Times (May 21, 2010).