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Sprint Cup Recap — Camping World RV Sales 301

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Sprint Cup part-timer Brian Vickers scored his third career victory in the Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, breaking a nearly four year winless drought by holding off Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton during a green-white-checkered finish.

New Hampshire is a tight, flat oval, which made passing on Sunday a tough proposition.  Paint was swapped often, and there were plenty of cautions to show for it.  Sunday’s race had more yellow flag laps than the last two races at the speedway combined.

The victory was a popular one in the Sprint Cup garage area, with overall good-guy Vickers stating his case to be selected as the full-time driver for the Michael Waltrip Racing #55 Aaron’s Dream Machine team in 2014.

“It was difficult not to think about that those last 50 laps or 30 laps,” Vickers said.  “I just tried to live in the moment as much as possible, turn by turn, and not think about the past or the future or what could or couldn’t happen.”

Vickers had a tough road to get back in the winner’s circle in Cup competition.  After starting his career with Hendrick Motorsports, Vickers career was in jeopardy in 2010 when life-threatening blood clots in his legs and lungs sidelined him for half of the season.  After his recovery, Vickers found a ride with upstart team Red Bull Racing in 2011, but lost his ride when RBR sold out to BK Racing in 2011.

“Once it was over…I think it was a sigh of relief with everything that had happened, to finally clinch another victory after so long and after so much,” Vickers said.  “It was a lot of thankfulness…that’s definitely the feeling I have.”

Tony Stewart took an aggressive fuel strategy and led most of the closing laps of the race, but while sitting second on the final restart he ran out of gas coming to take the white flag.  Stewart wound up 26th and fell from 10th to 13th in the standings, but still holds the second wild card spot based on his win at Dover earlier in the year.

After a second place showing in the Nationwide event, Vickers swapped positions with Kyle Busch, who won Saturday’s race and ran second to the #55 Sunday.  Busch led laps early in the event, but complained about his car being hard to drive in traffic.

“We didn’t have a chance,” Busch said.  “Vickers taking the outside lane was going to be the car to beat, and Tony obviously running out of gas there…almost wrecked with him.  Just wish the race was two laps longer maybe and Vickers would’ve run out and maybe we would have been able to win the thing.”

Here’s what else we learned in New Hampshire:

The race for the chase is going to be awesome.  Thirty-one points separate 9th to 17th in the Sprint Cup standings right now.  With seven races to go until the Chase begins, last years champ Brad Keselowski is 9th and, without a win, is certainly no lock to make the playoff.  Jeff Gordon right now is sitting 12th without a win, on the outside looking in.  Guys like Burton, Almirola, McMurray and Kurt Busch, who’s been so fast all year, all could sneak their way in as well.

Danica wrecked Ricky.  Welp, we knew this would happen eventually.  Danica Patrick, who’s currently dating fellow rookie Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is gonna have some splainin’ to do after she overdrove into turn 1, hooking Stenhouse in the right rear and sending them, as well as the #93 of Travis Kvapil into the outside wall.

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