Brian Vickers is an American stock car racing driver with almost 500 starts in two NASCAR national series between 2001 and 2016. He was the 2003 Busch Series champion, driving the Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports and winning three races. In the NASCAR Nextel/Sprint Cup Series, he scored three wins.
Racing debut at the age of 11
Brian Lee Vickers was born on October 24, 1983, in Thomasville, North Carolina. Brian started racing career as an 11-year-old boy, running go-karts in different national and international competitions. Until 1998, he won three titles in the World Karting Association.
His switch to stock cars racing followed in 1999, when he debuted both in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series and in the CARS ProCup Series. In 2000 and 2001, Vickers won two races in each season and finished third in the standings of the CARS USAR ProCup Series two years in a row. In 2000, he was awarded Rookie of the Year.
NASCAR Busch Series debut with father's car
Brian's debut in the NASCAR Busch Series came on July 1, 2001, at Milwaukee Mile. He was driving the #29 Chevrolet for Clyde Vickers' BLV Motorsports team and he crashed after 54 laps. He ran three more races with the same car, finishing best 25th at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.
Brian joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2003
In 2002, Brian's father Clyde purchased #40 Dodge Intrepid and it was Brian's car in 21 races of the Busch Series. He competed for Rookie of the Year honors but didn't reach that title. Brian's best result was seventh place at Richmond International Raceway and he finished 30th in the points.
In 2003, the family team stopped the operations due to lack of funding, so Brian had to find a new team. He was hired by Hendrick Motorsports to drive the #5 Chevrolet for the full season in the Busch Series.
Three wins for first and only NASCAR title
In twenty races he scored eleven Top 10 finishes, but he was still missing the victory. And then, he scored three wins in less than two months. Vickers' maiden win was in the Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park on August 2. It was followed by victories at Darlington Raceway and Dover International Speedway. After 34 races, Brian won his first and only championship title by just 14 points over David Green.
First full Cup season in 2004
During the season, Vickers participated in five Winston Cup Series races for Hendrick Motorsports. He debuted with #60 Chevrolet at Charlotte Motor Speedway, finishing 33rd. In the last four races of the season, he was driving the #25 Hendrick's Chevrolet. He was good in qualifying, reaching top 5 each time, but in the races, his best result was 12th place at Phoenix International Raceway.
The #25 GMAC Chevrolet was Brian's car in the 2004 Nextel Cup Series season, his first full season in the NASCAR premier division. In his debut season, Brian won two poles, at Richmond and Fontana, but didn't convert it to victories.
Third in the rookies standings
In 2005, Vickers won the Nextel Open and qualified for the annual Nextel All-Star Challenge, in which he finished third. In the races for points, still driving the #25 Chevrolet, Vickers finished ten times among ten best drivers. He finished 17th in the points. He was closest to victory at Pocono in June, finishing second behind Carl Edwards.
Controversial maiden Cup victory at Talladega
After six races in the Top 10, the maiden Cup Series victory came at Talladega on October 8, 2006. Vickers started ninth and ran third, behind Dale Earnhardt Jr and his teammate Jimmie Johnson. On the last lap, Vickers bumped Johnson's car, causing Johnson to touch Earnhardt's car. Johnson and Earnhardt both spun off into the infield, leaving Vickers in the front. The caution was flagged and Vickers was declared a winner.
Vickers moved to Red Bull's Toyota in 2007
Before Vickers' maiden victory, the season was marked by conflicts within Hendrick Motorsports. In mid-season, Vickers announced that he would leave the team to join the new Red Bull Team in 2007. After four seasons in Hendrick's Chevrolet's, Vickers moved to the #83 Red Bull Toyota Camry. His teammate in the #84 Toyota was AJ Allmendinger.
Thirteen bad qualifying attempts
The season had a bad start, as Vickers suffered a blown tire and failed to qualify for the Daytona 500. The things got better next week at the Auto Club Speedway, where Vickers finished tenth. Later in the season he recorded twelve more DNQs and four more top 10 finishes. His best result was fifth place in the Coca-Cola 600 race. He finished 38th in the points. During 2007, Vickers also competed with Braun Racing in the Busch Series, driving Toyota in seven races, finishing sixth at Michigan and Richmond.
Good season with new Car of Tomorrow
In 2008, the first full season with the Cars of Tomorrow, Vickers' results improved. The #83 Toyota was among top 10 finishers six times, including second place in the Pocono 500 race. At the end of the season, Vickers was 19th in the standings. During the season, he again competed with Braun Racing's Toyota in the Nationwide Series, collecting eight top 10 finishes in 12 races.
Second win and the best season in the Sprint Cup Series
The season 2009 was even better than previous, in a fact, it was the career-best Cup Series season for Brian Vickers. He finished 12th in the final classification, scoring thirteen finishes in the top 10, including his second Cup victory.
Vickers has won in the Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2009. Unlike his first victory, this one wasn't controversial, although his former teammate Jimmie Johnson again was the victim. Johnson was in the lead until the closing laps, when he ran out of fuel. Vickers took the victory with 1.409 seconds advantage over Jeff Gordon.
In 2009, Vickers increased his Nationwide Series schedule, competing in 17 races with Braun Racing's Toyota. He scored seven Top 5 finished, to ended the season 20th in the points.
Health problems interrupted Brian's racing career
In 2010, Brian's career went down due to serious health issues. He started the season with relatively good results, finishing three times in the Top 10 in eleven races. On May 13, it was announced that Vickers would not be participating in the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Later it was revealed that the reason were blood clots in his legs and around his lungs. Few days after he was released from a hospital, it was announced that Vickers would miss the remainder of the season. His replacements for the rest of the season were Casey Mears, Reed Sorenson, Mattias Ekstrom, Boris Said and Kasey Kahne.
Last season with Red Bull Team
Vickers returned to the cockpit of the #83 Red Bull Toyota in 2011 and competed the full season, scoring seven top 10 results. His best finish was fifth place at Dover. He finished the season in 25th place. Red Bull shut down its team at the end of the season, so Brian stayed without a ride for 2012.
A deal with Michael Waltrip includes participation at Le Mans
In March, when the season already started, Vickers made an agreement with Michael Waltrip Racing to drive #55 Toyota in six races. The schedule was later expanded to eight races, with an addition of two road courses. Vickers' best result was fourth place at Sonoma and Bristol's Night Race.
A deal with Michael Waltrip Racing also included Brian's participation in three races of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, including 24 hours of Le Mans. Vickers was driving the #61 Ferrari 458 Italia of the AF Corse-Waltrip team, alongside Robert Kaufmann and Rui Aguas. At 24 hours of Le Mans, the trio finished 31st overall and 6th in GTE-Am Class. The other two races were 6 hours of Spa and 6 hours of Bahrain.
Double program in 2013 with MWR and JGR
For 2013 season, Vickers renewed his contract with Michael Waltrip Racing, planning to share the #55 Toyota with Mark Martin and team owner Michael Waltrip. In the same time, Vickers returned to the Nationwide Series in the Joe Gibbs Racing's #20 Toyota. During the season, he also drove #11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in three races of the Sprint Cup Series, as a replacement for injured Denny Hamlin.
Magical weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
The highlight of the season was weekend July 13-14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In the Nationwide Series race, Vickers led 63 laps but finished second to Kyle Busch. The next day, Vickers held off Busch to win his third career Sprint Cup Series race. Except second place at New Hampshire, Vickers scored twelve more Top 5 results in the 2013 Nationwide Series, to finish 10th in the final standings.
After the Sprint Cup race at Richmond in early September, Vickers and the whole team were penalized because of an attempt to manipulate the results. The team was fined a $300,000 and 50 championship points per car. On October 14, the new health problems appeared and Vickers was again forced to sit out the rest of the season.
Last full season in the MWR Toyota
In 2014, Vickers returned as a full-time driver in the #55 MWR Toyota. His best result was the second place in the Coke Zero at Daytona. He was eight more time among top 10 finishers, to ended the season 22nd in the points.
Just two races in 2015
New health issues appeared in December 2014 and it was announced that Vickers would miss part of the 2015 season. He had heart surgery in December but he was fit to enter the competition in March. He returned to the car in the third round of the season at Las Vegas. After the fourth round at Phoenix, it was announced that Vickers would miss the rest of the season. While out of racing, Vickers joined NASCAR on NBC as a race analyst.
Five races in Stewart's #14 Chevrolet
In 2016, Stewart-Haas Racing hired Vickers as a replacement driver for injured Tony Stewart in his #14 Chevrolet SS. Vickers participated in five races, scoring 7th place as the best finish at Martinsville.