There's feel-good wins, there's wins that have been long overdue, and then there's comeback victories that are based on outside factors.
Today at New Hampshire was one of those victories.
After 2011, it was unclear of the direction that Brian Vickers was going in his career. After his previous win in 2009 with Red Bull Racing, he missed majority of 2010 having been diagnosed with blood clots in his legs and lungs.
After recovery, he came back to Red Bull to compete, but once they left the sport, it was unclear of his destination.
He got an opportunity with Michael Waltrip Racing to drive the No. 55 at select events that Mark Martin elected to not go to. In each of those races, he made the most of his opportunity, running strong and finishing in great position.
That gave him the chance this year to go full-time in Nationwide with JGR, while still being a fill-in on occasion for MWR.
But this weekend was different. When he needed to be the strongest, he did not back down. With Tony Stewart on his inside for the final restart, a green-white-checkered, he didn't back off, and made Stewart make a choice of wreck him or let off...and he let off. Sadly, Stewart used every drop of fuel he had, sending him to a mediocre finish of 26th.
In the end, Vickers stood tall, making his claim that he deserves a full-time ride, quite possibly in the 55 car.
No writers had him pegged for victory, but many stayed strong despite some animosity entering the weekend with a pick failing inspection. Still, points are tight, unlike in the real series.
Here's how things shape up after the Camping World RV Sales 301:
Rob Tiongson (665) Jeff Gordon finished 10th (1)
Patti Rodisch (646) Jimmie Johnson finished 6th (0)
Kelly Crandall (619) Kasey Kahne finished 11th (1)
Sal Sigala Jr. (612) Jimmie Johnson finished 6th (1)
Michael Hirshbein (603) Kyle Busch finished 2nd (2)
Billy Fellin (600) Kasey Kahne finished 11th (1)
Rob Blount (577) Kasey Kahne finished 11th (1)
Dustin Parks (563) Tony Stewart finished 26th (0)
Kara Martin (527) Clint Bowyer finished 13th (0)
Ryan O'Hara (527) Clint Bowyer finished 13th (0)
James Broomhead (520) NO PICK SENT (1)
Misan Akuya (490) Tony Stewart finished 26th (1)
Christopher Leone (420) NO PICK SENT (0)
Note: With Jimmie Johnson failing post-qualifying inspection, should any penalties in points be announced this week, the writers that chose him to win this week will be deducted the points he loses.
Next Race: One thing that kids always look forward to is summer break, a chance to relax and do what they want for about three months. In NASCAR, their edition of summer break is only a week off, one of only two they have each year.
That is what the Sprint Cup Series will have next weekend, a week away from the track to enjoy summer and regroup for the stretch run to the end of the season.
When NASCAR returns, it's a celebration of 20 years of racing at possibly the most famed speedway in the country. Next on the schedule, a track that initially people thought wouldn't be welcomed by NASCAR, but once they began racing here it has been the perfect fit. There's no milk to drink after this victory, nor a wreath to wear. Just lifting a trophy and planting a kiss on the nastiest bricks ever seen, but a kiss that is sweet to the winner.
Writers, you have a lot of time to contemplate your strategy, so submit your picks for the Crown Royal "Your Hero's Name Here" 400 at the Brickyard by Thursday, July 25, at 10 p.m. ET.