Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Michael Waltrip Racing on Tuesday formally
introduced Brian Vickers as the full-time driver of the No. 55 Toyota for the
2014 Sprint Cup Series season.
MWR also announced that Aaron's has signed a new two-year agreement to sponsor
the No. 55 team. Aaron's will serve as primary sponsor for the team in all 36
Sprint Cup races next year.
The announcements were made at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.
Vickers has driven the No. 55 car for MWR on a part-time basis in 2012 and
this year. The 29-year-old driver is currently a full-time competitor in the
Nationwide Series. Vickers, who is behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota for
Joe Gibbs Racing, is just 18 points behind leader Austin Dillon in the
Nationwide championship standings.
"I feel like I've finally found a home," Vickers said of his full-time ride in
Sprint Cup next year. "I've know Michael now for longer than either of us
probably want to remember, but it's been great. We've raced together, and now
we work together. He's created an incredible culture at MWR.
"I think Aaron's being a part of it for as long as they have is representative
of that. (MWR co-owner) Rob Kauffman coming in and being a phenomenal partner
is a part of that. (MWR vice president and general manager) Ty (Norris) and
all of the leadership at MWR are building something that I think is going to
be very special for a long time to come. I'm honored and thankful to be a part
of it. This is a dream come true for me."
One month ago, Vickers completed his remarkable comeback in NASCAR's premier
series when he won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, ending his 75-race winless
Vickers' racing career was in doubt three years ago when he suffered blood
clots in his legs and lungs and later had heart surgery as part of his
treatment. After sitting out most of the 2010 season, Vickers returned healthy
to his Red Bull Racing team at the start of 2011. But Red Bull shut down after
the season concluded, leaving Vickers without a ride.
Team owner Michael Waltrip came to Vickers' rescue last year when he offered
him the role as part-time driver of the No. 55 car. Mark Martin drove it in 24
races last season, while Vickers was behind the wheel in eight events and
Waltrip in four.
"The job that Brian and the (No. 55) Aaron's team did up in Loudon (N.H.) and
to be a part-time guy and come in here and win one of these races was an
amazing accomplishment and a celebration of a lot of hard work by Brian
Vickers to be back in the Sprint Cup Series after a tough couple of years,"
Waltrip said. "We're going to have party for you, and we're starting that
party (Tuesday) by announcing that you're going to be the driver of No. 55
Aaron's Toyota for the next few years and hopefully 10 or 15 (years)."
Vickers drove the car this past weekend at Watkins Glen International. He
finished 32nd after being involved in an accident with Marcos Ambrose and Max
Papis with six laps to go.
He is scheduled for three more Sprint Cup races this season: Bristol Motor
Speedway (Aug. 24), New Hampshire (Sept. 22) and Martinsville Speedway (Oct.
Vickers' win at New Hampshire made a strong case that he was worthy of a full-
time opportunity in the No. 55 car next year. Martin is in his final season
with Waltrip's team.
"We wouldn't be sitting here today, I don't believe, if Mark hadn't joined us
last year," Waltrip said. "He really gave us a chance to grow our team. And
with Mark's schedule, I got to run a few races which meant the world to me.
But we needed a guy to fill in a few other ones, and that guy was Brian
Vickers. We loved Brian's enthusiasm, and we loved how he wanted to race that
car no matter what. It wasn't about money from day one, and it isn't about
money today. It's about showing people that he's a championship driver. He's
getting that opportunity now."
The Sports Network