Brian Vickers finished 7th after starting 6th in saturday's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond. That was just enough to take Matt Kenseth outside the top 12 for the first time in 2009 and hold off Kyle Busch by 8 points to make his first ever chase for the Sprint Cup. This is now the closet margin someone has ever made the chase since 2004 when Ryan Newman beat out Jamie McMurray by 15 points for the 10th spot.
"Hell yeah," Vickers told his crew as the race ended. "That's what I'm talking about, boys."
For a team that 2 seasons ago was missing race including the Daytona 500, this is huge for them.
"The last 10 weeks have proven what this team is made of," Vickers said. "And we picked a darn good time to figure this place out."
The 83 team stepped up at a track where they and Brian Vickers typically do not run well at. Yet Brian achieved his best ever finish at the track which he has a 28th place average finish at. And to hang on to that spot with Kyle Busch breathing down his neck the same Kyle Busch who won this race in May, the same Kyle Busch who called him an "idiot" was nothing short of amazing.
"Everyone knows that Kyle and I have had our differences and don't always get along," Vickers said. "But the last two weeks we raced each other really hard and clean and I really appreciate that."
Brian Vickers has officially had his breakout season. With 1 win, 4 top fives, 13 top tens and sitting 8th in points after 6 seasons the 2003 nationwide champion is finally living up to expectations.
But where does the 83 go from here?
Simple:Continue what you have been doing.
In the last 9 races Brian has a win, 2 top fives, and 7 top tens. His 2 finishes outside the top ten are an 11th at Watkins Glen, and a 12th at Bristol. He has been one of the hottest drivers in NASCAR. Infact other than Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin he has gained more points than anyone.
But can the 83 win the championship in only their 3rd year?
They are certainly not a favorite by no means. But they are a very strong dark horse. The way they have ran on the 1.5 mile tracks, they will be factors at Kansas, Lowes, Auto Club, Texas, and Homestead. He is a great plate racer getting his first cup win there so he'll factor in at Talladega. Though their short track program is improving it must sitll get better and that will cost them at Loudon, Martinsvillie and Phoenix.
But this 83 team is so determined it is hard to see what will stop him. Brian Vickers is on a high and so is crew chief Ryan Pemberton.
We have the favorites, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johsnon. But don't you dare ignore Brian Vickers in the 83 car. Or else he'll surprise us again like he did making the chase in the first place.