What looked like a strong season for Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide Series driver Brian Vickers derailed at the end of the season, as he was sidelined for the final races of the season by a small blood clot in his calf region on his right leg. The issue was similar to the problem that sidelined Vickers for most of the 2010 season, but doctors say Vickers, who will race full-time for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2014 in the Cup Series, will be able to begin the 2014 season.
Prior to his health issue, Vickers raced to 18 top 10 finishes in 30 starts in the Nationwide Series for JGR, running in the top 10 in points for most of the season. The season got off to a rough start with 19th and 17th-place finishes at Daytona and Phoenix, respectively; Vickers then put together back-to-back third-place finishes at Las Vegas and Bristol before having engine problems at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, relegating him to a 34th-place finish.
Four top 10 finishes in the next six races put Vickers in the top three in points, but tough finishes at Iowa (29th) and Michigan (33rd) dropped him back into 10th place. Over the next 10 races, Vickers earned eight top 10 finishes, including finishes of sixth or better at the three road courses on the Nationwide Series schedule (sixth at Road America, third at Watkins Glen International and fifth at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course). Going into the final stretch of races for the 2013 season, Vickers had firmly planted himself in the top six in points, but after missing the final three races of the season, he finished 10th in points.
Denny Hamlin (Texas – second) and Drew Herring (Phoenix – 16th and Homestead-Miami – 15th) subbed for Vickers in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry at the end of the season.
Vickers was also a sub himself, taking over for Denny Hamlin in the Sprint Cup Series for three races (Texas, Kansas and Richmond) early in the season when Hamlin suffered a back injury. Vickers had a top finish of eighth in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota. Vickers raced in 17 Cup Series races in 2013 – three for JGR and 14 for MWR – and picked up a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July, his first Cup Series win since 2009. Elliott Sadler subbed for Vickers in the Cup Series for MWR at the end of the season.
Stay up-to-date with JGR during the off-season at joegibbsracing.com.
Check out Paula’s Examiner columns on motorsports:
Follow Paula on:
· Twitter - @paulat14
· Website – paulathompsonfreelance.com
· Flickr – Paula Thompson Freelance
Contact Paula at email@example.com