Brian Vickers Draws Inspiration from Ricky Hendrick for Top-10by Kyle Pokrefky April 4, 2016 0 comments
Drawing inspiration from his late best friend, Ricky Hendrick, Brian Vickers fought his way to a seventh-place finish in the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.
Driving in place for the injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Janssen/Arnie’s Army Chevrolet, Vickers earned his first top-10 since October 2014 and the No. 14’s first since last Fall’s race at Martinsville.
Running solidly in the top-eight all day, Vickers ended his race feeling that he could have improved on his finishing position.
“I was pleased but not satisfied,” Vickers said post-race. “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. We had a great car. It was a top 10. Gosh, we wanted to win this race for Arnie’s Army and everybody.”
Vickers stated that the thought of the late Hendrick gave him some extra motivation to go for his first race win since 2013.
Hendrick and seven family members and friends tragically lost their lives in a plane crash west of Martinsville while on descent to Blue Ride Airport on October 24, 2004. The eight passengers were headed to the track for that weekend’s Subway 500 – a race that Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson went on to win.
Vickers was personally hired by Hendrick to drive his No. 5 Chevrolet in the XFINITY Series in 2003 in what turned out to be a championship-winning effort. At the time of Hendrick’s passing, Vickers was in the middle of his rookie effort in the Sprint Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports.
“This is a bittersweet special track for me,” Vickers said. “I lost my best friend here. I really wanted to win for him. But it was still a good day.
“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.”
Serving as one of two of Stewart’s substitutes until the three-time champion fully recovers from a pre-season back injury, Vickers will drive in next weekend’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Beyond that, the three-time Sprint Cup race winner’s schedule for the remainder of the season remains a mystery.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas