Stratospheric envy

Brian Vickers (L), driver of the #55 MyClassicGarage.com Toyota, talks with John Darby (R), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Competition Director, in the garage prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

MARTINSVILLE, Va.—As an experienced sky diver, Brian Vickers could only marvel at the recent 24-mile jump of Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner.

Vickers, who drove in the Sprint Cup Series for Red Bull Racing, has more than a casual connection with Baumgartner, whose Red Bull Stratos program benefited from a collaboration with NASA. Baumgartner, who jumped from a helium balloon, set records for a parachute jump from the highest altitude and the greatest free-fall velocity (834 mph).

“I was jealous, except for when he went into that flat spin,” Vickers said. “I’ve done some stuff with Felix. He’s a great guy.

“I did a few jumps for my birthday (Oct. 24), which was a lot of fun. It went really well. I was actually going up in the plane, and I was thinking, ‘Wow, this seems high.’ But then I think to myself, ‘I guess it’s not so high anymore, after he jumped from there.'”

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