NASCAR: Three Races In, Brian Vickers Proves He Still Belongs

Brandon CaldwellCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2011

Brian Vickers climbing into his Red Bull Toyota at Vegas
Brian Vickers climbing into his Red Bull Toyota at VegasJohn Harrelson/Getty Images

It was a sad day. May 13, 2010, was the day the sport first learned of Brian Vickers' illness that ended up sidelining the 26-year-old driver for the remainder of 2010.

Vickers and his Red Bull Racing team finally had things where they wanted them. After leaving Hendrick Motorsports after the 2006 season, Vickers moved on to a brand-new Toyota team nobody knew anything about. And Red Bull Racing, and Toyota, really struggled in their first year.

In total, the No. 83 team ran 23 races, missing a stunning 13 events in 2007, and left people wondering if Red Bull had made the right choice in hiring Brian Vickers.

But the duo stuck together, and after courting GM, Jay Frye, the team seemed to be headed down a better path for 2008. They sat on their first-ever pole at Michigan. But the team still had some work to do with a 19th-place points finish.

But 2009 was a great year. Vickers won at Michigan, and the team made the chase.

in 2010 the 83 team got off to a rough start. They crashed two times in 11 weeks, but still managed to pick up 3 top ten finishes before Vickers went down with blood clots.

Many drivers have taken breaks in their careers, but not many have came back with too much success. We're watching Terry Labonte now. He went into semi-retirement for several years.

There's no doubt Terry is talented, after all he is a two-time champ, but the sport has changed so significantly, it's hard to keep up.

Steve Park was never really the same driver after his two hiatuses, and the list goes on.

So I was worried about Brian Vickers. I like the kid, I think he's a very talented race car driver. But I was worried that Vickers' hiatus would ruin 2011 for him.

But at Las Vegas, he was in the top 10 for most of the afternoon, ending up with a 10th-place finish when it was all said and done.

Brian Vickers is still here to stay, he belongs in the Sprint Cup series, and he won't let anything derail him from that.

He proved that Sunday. The man deserves some recognition.