Can Vickers return to victory lane at Darlington?

TALLADEGA, AL - MAY 04:  Brian Vickers, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, looks on from the grid during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 4, 2013 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

TALLADEGA, AL – MAY 04: Brian Vickers, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, looks on from the grid during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 4, 2013 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Brian Vickers came into the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series season amidst high expectations and title aspirations. Although they haven’t found Victory Lane yet, he and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team are poised for a run at the championship.

Vickers hopes Friday night’s VFW Sports Clips Help a Hero 200 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Darlington Raceway will propel him up the standings and right in the middle of the championship battle. He currently sits eighth in the standings, 54 points behind Regan Smith.

Vickers has found success at Darlington and enjoys racing there.

“Darlington is one of my favorite tracks, if not my favorite,” said the 2003 NASCAR Nationwide champion.

“It’s been a quite a while since I won there, and it would be great to do it again this weekend.”

In addition to his one victory there, which came there in 2003, he has finishes of seventh, ninth, 10th and 12th. These strong performances, however, are offset by finishes of 37th, 37th and 43rd. These three finishes were each the result of either an accident or overheating. Every NASCAR Nationwide race he’s finished at Darlington, he’s placed in the top 12 and on the lead lap.

In nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington his best finish is 10th, coming in 2010.

Vickers has finished in the top 15 in five of the past six races, including a pair of back-to-back third-place finishes at Las Vegas and Bristol. The only race in which he finished lowered than 19th was at Auto Club when an engine failure relegated him to a 34th-place finish.

Vickers will need to have his “A” game to make up a lot of ground in the standings, however, he understands the unique challenges the Darlington track presents.

“With the two distinct corners, each lap can present a challenge, especially when you get into lapped traffic,” said Vickers. “You have to be on your game the whole time and know the limits. And with fast speeds and tight racing, you can easily push it over the limits.”

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