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CUP: Patience A Virtue For Vickers

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Through team changes and serious illness, Brian Vickers has been patient.

He’ll continue that path this year, running another part-time Sprint Cup schedule at Michael Waltrip Racing while also driving in Nationwide for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Vickers was a big part of MWR’s surge last season, driving the No. 55 car – along with Mark Martin and team co-owner Michael Waltrip – to a 15th-place finish in the owner point standings.

Barring a collapse or odd events this year, it’s assumed that Vickers will move full time into the No. 55 next season.

“I don’t know what’s next, and even if I did, that doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to happen,” Vickers said. “I’ve figured that out the hard way. My focus is on 2013.

“I will definitely tell you that, unequivocally, I’m proud and happy to be a part of the Toyota family and stay a part of the Toyota family. I feel like they (Toyota) feel the same way. They played an integral role in keeping me here and making all of this work and making all of this happen for 2013. I see no reason to change it from my perspective for 2014. How it looks exactly – we don’t know yet.”

Martin has said he doesn’t expect to be in the 55 next year, although he hasn’t worked out plans for whatever is next in his remarkable and unpredictable career.

Although his 2012 season was abbreviated, Vickers, who also got in some sports car racing, said he was mostly pleased with the results.

“Last year was an amazing year, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” he said. “I got to race a great car for eight races with Mark and Michael and everyone here at MWR and Toyota. Then I got to travel all through Europe and around the world racing sports cars, and I loved it. This year, it’s back to NASCAR and back to full time again, and I’m looking forward to it.

“I would have loved to have won one of those races, and we came very close. Obviously, I’m very pleased with the results and how it all worked out considering it was part-time.”

This year, he’ll pursue a Nationwide championship with Gibbs while being a “team” driver again in the 55. The schedule will be busier.

“It’s going to be a different year,” Vickers said. “It’s going to be just like it used to be. It’s actually going to be like going back 10 years. The only other time in my career that I ran full time in Nationwide was in 2003, and then I raced part-time in Cup and ran five or six races. It’s going way back. Compared to last year, it’s going to be very different.”

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.