By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Brian Vickers did an incredible job substituting for the injured Tony Stewart Sunday at Martinsville, and recorded the best finish for the No. 14 team so far this year.
Vickers not only recorded the best finish of 2016 for the team, but his seventh place finish Sunday is actually the best finish for this race team since Stewart finished sixth at Bristol 35 races ago.
Vickers is happy with the outcome, but he yearns for more.
“I was pleased but not satisfied. We had such a good car. We were so fast. I don’t know if the track changed or we had different tire codes today. It just wasn’t quite as good as practice all weekend. But I’m really proud of the effort by the guys,” Vickers said after the race. “We had a great car. It was a top 10. Gosh, we wanted to win this race for Arnie’s Army and everybody.”
For Vickers, Martinsville is a cruel reminder of where his career began. Had it not been for Ricky Hendrick (Rick Hendrick’s son) hand picking a 19-year-old Vickers for the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Xfinity Series team back in 2003, Vickers likely would not have had the opportunities he has enjoyed through his NASCAR career. Tragically Hendrick was killed in a plane crash with several friends and family members while on route to Martinsville in October of 2004.
“This is a bittersweet special track for me. I lost my best friend here. I really wanted to win for him. But it was still a good day,” Vickers said. “We’ll take a seventh and move on. The team is getting stronger every week, really. I’m proud of those guys and it’s going to be a strong team.”
After finishing 26th and 36th in his first two starts of 2016, Vickers has now finished 13th and seventh in his last two. So momentum definitely seems to be building for the North Carolina native.
Vickers is still sharing the No. 14 car with youngster Ty Dillon until Stewart is able to return from a burst fracture in his back. With so much uncertainty, one thing is certain; Vickers will keep trying to make the most of his opportunities.