SONOMA, Calif. — Brian Vickers is making his role as a spot starter for Michael Waltrip Racing pay dividends.
Fresh from a sixth-place finish in the GTE-Am class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans — in a Ferrari 458 he co-drove with MWR principal Rob Kauffman and Rui Aguas — Vickers came home fourth Sunday at Sonoma, overcoming a pit road speeding penalty to post his second top-five in three starts this season as a fill-in for Mark Martin.
“I haven’t had many Cup races this year, but we’ve made the most of them,” said Vickers, who signed on for six races this season — two each at Bristol, Martinsville and New Hampshire — and had his schedule extended to include the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen after finishing fifth at Bristol in March.
The road racing at Le Mans was a positive for Vickers, but he had to adjust to the heavier stock cars when he returned to the United States.
“It was great to run Le Mans and then come here to road race,” Vickers said. “I learned a lot about road racing. I kind of had to undo some of what I learned (at Le Mans) to get back in these cars. It took me a couple of runs to get back to the heavy car with all the horsepower.”
It was another excellent audition for Vickers, who is looking for a full-time Cup job. Team owner Michael Waltrip allowed after the race that MWR might consider adding a fourth team with Vickers as the driver. According to Waltrip, that would be a better option than waiting for Martin, 53, to retire.
“I wouldn’t wait around for Mark to quit, if I was him,” Waltrip quipped. “I would put something else in my contract if I was him, because Mark is probably going to do it for a while.”
“He might live forever,” added Clint Bowyer, Sunday’s race winner. “He might be doing this at 110.”