Brian Vickers wins New Hampshire Sprint Cup race: Driver ends years long winless streak



On a picture-perfect Sunday afternoon when the Busch brothers or Tony Stewart seemed almost certain to win the Sprint Cup race in Loudon, it was, instead, part-time racer Brian Vickers in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In the No. 55 Toyota Camry he shares with Mark Martin for Michael Waltrip Racing, Vickers led only the final 16 laps of the Camping World RV 301.

In a green-white-checkered overtime sprint to the finish, Vickers beat Kyle Busch in a Toyota, Jeff Burton in a Chevrolet, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola in Fords, series point-leader Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick in Chevys, Carl Edwards in a Ford, Matt Kenseth in a Chevy and Jeff Gordon in a Chevy. After leading much of the race and restarting second for the two-lap overtime, Stewart, in a Chevrolet, ran out of gas on the next-to-last lap and finished 26th.

The win was Vickers’ first this year, when he’s started only five of 19 races in the No. 55 car. (Martin has driven the car 12 times and owner Waltrip has driven it twice). It was Vickers’ first win at the 1.018-mile track near Loudon and only the third win of his 271-start Sprint Cup career. His most recent win before Sunday was at Michigan International Speedway, where he won for Red Bull Racing in August of 2009.

The tour is off next weekend — the last of this year’s two open dates — before going to the 20th annual Brickyard at Indianapolis on June 30. Johnson takes a 56-point lead over Clint Bowyer into that race, followed in the top 10 by Edwards, Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth and Kyle Busch (tied for sixth), Greg Biffle, Keselowski and Kasey Kahne.

Pole-winner Keselowski led the first nine laps before Kyle Busch led the next 53. Kurt Busch led laps 63-74, then Keselowski again for laps 75-77. Kurt Busch went ahead again for laps 78-123 and Keselowski led lap 124 as pit stops cycled through under caution. Kenseth took the lead with a quicker stop and led 125-157. Keselowski led 158 (again, as pit stops cycled through) then Kurt Busch led 159-202, when Stewart beat everyone out of the pits during caution stops. Stewart led from 203 until 286, when Vickers easily took the lead going into turn one and held it the final 16 circuits.

The race got off to an uncommonly ragged start and ended that way as well, slowed 12 times for 58 of the 302 laps. Ford driver Joey Logano blew a tire and crashed by himself in turn one after just three laps. Eleven laps later, Ford drivers Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears also went to the garage after crashing off turn four. It all began when Kevin Harvick knocked Ambrose around, blocking the track and leaving Mears nowhere to go. The next five cautions were for harmless debris.

But the eighth caution was for an incident between Chevy drivers AJ Allmendinger and Danica Patrick in turn two at lap 218. (She spun, but recovered and stayed on the lead lap for the time being.) Moments later, Kenseth appeared to lightly clip the back of Chevy driver Kurt Busch entering turn one. That sent Busch into Chevy driver Newman, knocking both cars hard into the outside wall.

There was even more. Moments after the Busch-Newman-Kenseth incident, Patrick and Ford drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Travis Kvapil brought out the 10th caution when they crashed out together in turn two. Gordon and Paul Menard brought out the 11th caution with an incident in turn two at lap 259, then there was a debris caution at lap 298 that set up the two-lap overtime finish. Vickers fought off No. 2 starter Kyle Busch and No. 3 starter Stewart for a half-lap before Stewart ran out of gas, leaving Vickers a relatively easy path to the finish.

All told, Kurt Busch led three times for 102 laps, Stewart once for 84, Kyle Busch once for 53, Kenseth once for 33, Vickers only the final 16 and Keseloski four times for 14, most of them under cautions as pit stops cycled through. Vickers averaged 98.735 mph in the race that lasted 3 hours, 13 minutes and 10 seconds. He beat Kyle Busch to the line by 0.562 seconds.

Results

1. (13) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 302 laps, 103.5 rating, 0 points, $214,075.

2. (4) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 302, 128, 43, $228,043.

3. (9) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 302, 112.4, 41, $141,935.

4. (1) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 302, 119.9, 41, $179,076.

5. (17) Aric Almirola, Ford, 302, 81.7, 39, $152,496.

6. (43) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 302, 93.7, 38, $147,646.

7. (18) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 302, 82.2, 37, $140,221.

8. (6) Carl Edwards, Ford, 302, 92.2, 36, $128,560.

9. (12) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 302, 112, 36, $127,776.

10. (5) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 302, 102.6, 34, $134,871.

11. (8) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 302, 97.3, 33, $105,235.

12. (11) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 302, 83.8, 32, $117,380.

13. (20) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 302, 83.2, 31, $127,518.

14. (3) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 302, 98.1, 30, $108,260.

15. (22) Greg Biffle, Ford, 302, 80.6, 29, $102,410.

16. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 302, 70.9, 28, $118,610.

17. (14) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 302, 73, 27, $116,501.

18. (24) David Gilliland, Ford, 302, 65.1, 26, $103,918.

19. (29) David Ragan, Ford, 302, 59.5, 25, $109,618.

20. (42) David Stremme, Toyota, 302, 53.2, 24, $100,518.

21. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 302, 84.9, 23, $101,110.

22. (26) A J Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 302, 57.4, 22, $104,218.

23. (39) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 302, 54.3, 21, $93,782.

24. (10) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 302, 82.2, 20, $111,149.

25. (38) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 302, 44.3, 0, $80,985.

26. (16) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 302, 100.5, 19, $132,560.

27. (33) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 301, 62.6, 17, $91,210.

28. (27) David Reutimann, Toyota, 299, 46.9, 16, $82,910.

29. (40) J.J. Yeley, Chevrolet, 298, 41.6, 15, $82,535.

30. (37) Ken Schrader, Ford, 298, 36.5, 14, $83,785.

31. (2) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 283, 111.2, 15, $110,430.

32. (36) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, transmission, 281, 37.7, 0, $78,810.

33. (21) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 277, 41.8, 11, $105,799.

34. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 275, 56.9, 10, $128,221.

35. (35) Josh Wise, Ford, 270, 39.9, 0, $78,185.

36. (28) Casey Mears, Ford, 242, 29.4, 8, $85,955.

37. (32) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, accident, 237, 47.7, 7, $77,741.

38. (31) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, accident, 236, 49, 6, $80,675.

39. (15) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, accident, 225, 63.3, 5, $102,833.

40. (25) Joey Logano, Ford, 211, 34.3, 4, $92,583.

41. (41) Morgan Shepherd, Toyota, vibration, 92, 25.3, 0, $60,675.

42. (30) Michael McDowell, Ford, vibration, 89, 34.5, 2, $56,675.

43. (34) Mike Bliss, Toyota, rear gear, 75, 30.6, 0, $53,175.

Source: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130714/NASCAR01/130719916?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=