Loudon, NH – Brian Vickers, a part-time driver for Michael Waltrip Racing in the Sprint Cup Series this season, won Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 301 after making a late-race pass on Tony Stewart at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Vickers moved ahead of Stewart and took the lead for the first time with 16 laps remaining. A caution for debris in the closing laps set up a two-lap overtime finish. After the restart, Vickers pulled ahead of the field, while Stewart ran out of fuel and slowed on the track, allowing Kyle Busch to take second. Vickers beat Busch to the finish line by 0.58 seconds.
It was Vickers' third career Sprint Cup victory but his first since August 2009 at Michigan, which ended his 75-race winless streak.
Vickers made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in '09, driving for Red Bull at the time, but he sat out most of the 2010 season due to a blood- clotting condition. After Red Bull ceased its operations at the end of the 2011 season, Vickers was left without a ride until team owner Michael Waltrip offered him a part-time schedule in the No. 55 Toyota for 2012.
"This (car) was good today," Vickers said. "We had a mishap in the pits and fell a lap down, but we got it back. Thank God for the chance and the opportunity to come back with this team. (Crew chief) Rodney Childers and everybody believing in me and giving me a second chance. This means the world to me."
Vickers shares driving duties with Mark Martin and Waltrip in the No. 55 car. The 29-year-old Vickers is presently a full-time competitor in the Nationwide Series, driving the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. He finished second to Busch in Saturday's Nationwide race at New Hampshire.
"(Vickers) does a good job for us; all of our guys do," Childers said. "It's emotional for all of us today."
Vickers is being considered as the full-time driver for MWR's No. 55 in Sprint Cup next year. The win at New Hampshire might have secured his ride.
"Nothing is a guarantee in life," Vickers noted. "I've learned that the hard way. Even when you think it's done, it's not done. But it definitely goes a long way."
Busch led 53 laps in the early going before his elder brother, Kurt, took over and ran in front for a race-high 102 laps.
"It was certainly a tough one," Kyle Busch said. "Our car was really good, super fast for the short one in the race, and we could run up front and could make up some ground on the short runs with people passing them and what not.
"Once we got close to somebody, the aero effects really seemed to take over. After that happened, I was just over-slipping the right-front tire and then was just getting tighter and tighter the more the run went along and really struggled to turn the car in the entry of the corner. It was a very difficult day for us."
Jeff Burton finished third, while Brad Keselowski, the defending Sprint Cup champion and pole sitter for this race, took the fourth spot. Aric Almirola completed the top-five.
Jimmie Johnson placed sixth after starting from the rear of the field. His car failed post-qualifying inspection on Friday when the front end of it was found to be too low.
Following a round of pit stops under caution just past the halfway point, Johnson cracked the top-10 for the first time. He was never in contention to win here. Last weekend, Johnson scored his fourth victory of the season at Daytona.
"We had a great race car," Johnson said. "Once you get into the top-10 then it's a different game in trying to pass cars and work your way to the front."
Stewart, who led 84 laps, wound up finishing 26th.
The race featured 12 cautions, including one on lap 225 for a multi-car wreck. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman were running in a tight pack with Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne. Busch and Newman made contact, with both drivers spinning and then hitting the wall.
Busch later returned after making repairs and finished 31st.
"There was three-wide action, and everybody was going hard," he said.
Newman's day ended prematurely with a 39th-place finish.
"We just got whacked by a bunch of guys," Newman said. "I guess the 20 (Kenseth) had a little influence on it. It's just a lot of disrespect for a bunch of guys on restarts. But what goes around comes around."
On lap 237, Danica Patrick got bumped from behind and spun into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., her boyfriend, causing both rookie drivers to wreck. Travis Kvapil was caught up in the accident as well.
"We were all bunched up on those restarts," Patrick said. "I'm not sure if I misjudged the braking zone, or if they stopped really quick in front of me."
Patrick also spun out shortly before her incident with Stenhouse. She ended up finishing 37th.
At age 71, Morgan Shepherd set a record as the oldest driver to compete in a race in NASCAR's premier series. Shepherd, who drove the No. 52 Toyota for Brian Keselowski Racing, started 41st and finished in the same position after he retired just before the halfway points. It was his first start in the series since September 2006 at New Hampshire.
Jim Fitzgerald held the previous record. Fitzgerald was 65 years old when he competed at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway in 1987.