By: Billy Tewes
A big day for Brian Vickers and the dream machine, as he breaks through to victory lane at the Camping World RV 301. Vickers survived a green white checkered and a three wide threat from Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch to snap a 75 race winless streak. Vickers pounded hard out of turn two to get around Stewart. Vickers led 16 laps and like Stewart was also very close on fuel as he ran out doing celebratory burnouts! This race is Vickers third career win and first with Michael Waltrip Racing!
The race day at the New Hampshire International Speedway began with the #22 of Joey Logano sailing off into turn one on lap 4 and pounding the wall. His day was effectively ruined and would eventually finish 40th. The mayhem would continue just ten laps later where Marcos Ambrose and Kevin Harvick were racing hard for position. Harvick was upset with Ambrose and simply dumped him to which he claimed he “just got into him” and that he (Ambrose) is a hazard every week.
The carnage carried on at lap 225 when Kurt Busch dove into turn one and slid up in front of Matt Kenseth. It appeared as if Busch was racing like it was the last lap because he had nowhere to go. Kenseth bumped into Busch and sent Busch sailing into Ryan Newman. Newman would end up finishing 39th and Busch would get back out on track but would finish 31st.
Kenseth would come to pit road multiple times for four tire stops and valiantly tried to race his way back to the top 10. Amazingly, Kenseth finished 9th after racing from the back half of the top 20 multiple times due to the four tire pitstops. Kenseth led the race at one point and looked poised to be in position to get his fifth win, but due to the aforementioned tangle with Busch and Newman, Kenseth will be happy to salvage a top 10.
Tony Stewart and team made a track position decision to make their final stop with 98 to go and it came up short due to the green white checkered. Stewart ran out of fuel while contending for the win at the gwc and ended up finishing 26th. He will take a huge hit in the points. Their team really ran the risk and I think he should have pitted in sequence with the rest of the field. They were too focused on the win and this race might end up crushing their chances at a chase berth.
Teams that did not suffer from strategy mishaps were the teams of Jeff Burton and Aric Almirola. Burton earned his first top 5 since Richmond earlier this year winding up 3rd and Almirola proved that he could hold his own in the top 5 by finishing 5th. Points leader Jimmie Johnson wrapped up a controversial weekend by finishing 6th after having to start the race in the 43rd position due to being penalized in qualifying.
Vickers win proves that Michael Waltrip racing is catching on with some of the bigger teams in Sprint Cup. MWR has two wins this year and is quietly becoming a threat for contending for a title. I hope that Vickers gets a full time ride in the 55 as I think he will be the most consistent chance at putting this car in victory lane multiple times next year.