Brian Vickers is to return to full time NASCAR Nationwide Series competition in 2013, after signing a deal to run a full season with Joe Gibbs Racing in the #20 Dollar General car.
"When you look at the Nationwide Series over the past several years, no team has dominated like Joe Gibbs Racing," said Vickers, who described himself as being "so excited" about his new challenge. "Hopefully we'll be able to get Dollar General, Toyota and JGR a Nationwide Series Championship next season."
Vickers won the Nationwide title in 2003 at the age of 20, making him the youngest champion champion at that time in any of NASCAR's three national-level competitions. He made his Cup début the same year with Hendrick Motorsports, and in 2007 was signed up by the new Red Bull Toyota team.
Vickers was sidelined in 2010 by a medical condition that meant he could not race, and when he returned to Red Bull in 2011 it was to the shock news that the company was shutting its doors at the end of the season. Vickers has been without a full-time Cup ride since then, but has spent the 2012 season sharing the #55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota with Mark Martin. The arrangement - recently extended into 2013 - puts Vickers in the car for nine of the 36 Cup races, with Mark Martin taking 24 and owner Michael Waltrip the remaining three.
The new Nationwide deal with JGR keeps Vickers in the Toyota family, and also allows existing JGR sponsor Dollar General to expand its backing of the squad. The retail chain will also be the primary sponsor of the team's #20 Cup car for half the season, which will be in the hands of the latest addition to JGR's driver line-up, Matt Kenseth, who moves from Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the current season.
“We look forward to our expanded partnership with Dollar General in both our Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series' programs for next season,” said team owner Joe Gibbs. "With Matt and Brian we feel well positioned to deliver great visibility and winning results for the Dollar General brand.
"Matt is obviously a great talent, and his experience will be invaluable to our race team," added Gibbs. "Brian has proven to be successful in everything he has raced.”
“We are very excited about growing our partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General's chairman and CEO. “NASCAR effectively reaches our customers, and our racing program has proven to be successful in helping us build our brand. We're thrilled to have Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers driving Dollar General branded race cars next season.”
“I am fortunate to have raced with Dollar General before, and I am so excited to be reunited with Rick and everyone involved with their program,” added Vickers. “Dollar General is a tremendous company, and its support and enthusiasm for racing is outstanding."
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