Brian Vickers has endured several near misses this season for a long-awaited return to victory lane in the Nationwide Series.
He'll try to complete the journey Saturday in his 100th start in the series in the Camping World RV Sales 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Running a partial schedule for Braun Racing, Vickers has three top fives and six top tens in seven starts. He has finished fourth in his past two outings, at Lowe's and Dover.
“The numbers don't lie, and we have some great momentum right now,” Vickers said. “The Dollar General team has been in contention quite a few times this year and have just had some really bad luck. At Vegas (where Vickers finished a season-best third), we were leading by almost 16 seconds and had a problem on pit road. In Daytona, we were leading the race and got hung outside and also damaged the left front. And in Charlotte, we were leading the race, and before the last two cars made their pit stops, the rain came and the race was called.
“For a non-Cup affiliated team, Braun Racing has done an excellent job and outperforms the joint Cup/Nationwide teams. I don't think it will be long before we put this #32 into victory lane.”
Braun is the top team in the points that doesn't have a Sprint Cup connection, with full-time driver Jason Leffler fourth behind Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski. Braun, a Toyota team, is also running Elliott Sadler at New Hampshire in a partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports.
Braun also announced this week its release of Burney Lamar, who had been sharing the No. 32 with Vickers. Owner Todd Braun said he will hire “some extremely talented drivers” to begin building to contend for the 2010 owner's championship.
Vickers was the Nationwide champion in 2003 and won his third and final race that season on Sept. 20 at Dover. He moved up to Sprint Cup the next season and has run 40 Nationwide races over the past five years.
Vickers made his NASCAR debut in the Nationwide race at Milwaukee in 2001 at age 17.
“This weekend marks my 100th Nationwide Series start,” Vickers said. “It's hard to believe that it has been eight years almost to the day that I started driving in NASCAR.”
Vickers has one Nationwide start at New Hampshire, finishing fourth in 2003.
“It's been a long time since I've been in a Nationwide car here, but it's a fun track to race on - flat and fast,” he said. “The #32 team ran really well here last year, finishing second (with Denny Hamlin).”
In addition to Vickers, Sadler, Busch and Edwards, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Scott Speed are other Cup regulars entered.
by Tim Tuttle and Bill Marx/Sporting News