Notebook: Strong run at Bristol nets Vickers two more races with MWR
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- Triathlons or 600-mile stock car races: No problem for Johnson
- Flock, Petty, Jarrett, Ingram and Roberts to join the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014
- Questions abound regarding tomorrow's NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2014 announcement
- Jimmie Johnson adds another record to Hall of Fame credentials
- Johnson wins record fourth NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
- Crew chief Kevin Manion fights the symptoms and stigma of gout
- Kyle Busch breaks "drought" with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Charlotte
- Is winning Bruton Smith's $1-million bonus a realistic possibility?
By REID SPENCER
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (NASCAR) - To the Vickers go the spoils.
No, Brian Vickers didn't win at Bristol in his maiden voyage in Michael Waltrip's No. 55 Toyota, but he ran well enough -- leading 125 laps and finishing fifth -- to earn a bonus from his part-time employer.
Waltrip and Vickers announced Friday at Martinsville that Vickers will compete for Michael Waltrip Racing in the road course races at Infineon Raceway (Sonoma, Calif.) in June and Watkins Glen International in August in addition to the six events already scheduled -- two each at Bristol, Martinsville and New Hampshire.
The addition of those two races completes the schedule for the No. 55 Camry, which is shared by Mark Martin, Vickers and Waltrip. Martin is scheduled for 25 races but opted not to run the road courses.
The seamless way Vickers blended with the team for his run at Bristol -- where MWR cars finished third, fourth and fifth -- made awarding the extra races a no-brainer for Waltrip.
"Brian came to MWR and made a statement, showed not only our organization what he's capable of, but the whole world," Waltrip said. "We felt like that was deserving to let him run some more races -- eight races, if I do the math properly, we're up to a quarter of the season."
Turning to Vickers, Waltrip added, "Keep chipping away. Keep going, young man, and who knows, you might have 'em all one day."
Vickers has been job hunting ever since Red Bull Racing announced last year that the team was ceasing operations. That followed a 2010 season in which Vickers was sidelined since May to treat blood clots in his legs and lungs.
Vickers said that, at various points during the last two years, he had entertained the possibility that his career might be over.
"That conversation I've had with myself many times over the last couple of years, whether it was (when) I found out Red Bull was shutting down or towards the end of last year, trying to keep it going, or through the offseason talking to other teams or when I was lying in a hospital bed two years ago.
"I've just really tried to focus on the part that I can control and do the best I can -- and I've made mistakes."
A well-publicized series of on-track run-ins with Matt Kenseth at Martinsville last October may have damaged Vickers' market value, but Waltrip said that wasn't an issue in his decision to hire Vickers. Of much greater importance was building on the foundation Martin has established with the No. 55 team.
"I asked Brian when he showed up to go to Bristol, 'Let's just continue that momentum; you do the same thing with this group of guys that Mark has done, and you're going to win races, because this team is so high they believe in what they're doing, because Mark has built them up,' " Waltrip said.
"Then Brian shows up, and the same thing happens. It was pretty much a no-brainer to say run those other two races as well."
EDWARDS: 'I DON'T NEED A VACATION'
Carl Edwards says he hasn't even thought about what he'll do next week, the first of two "off" weeks for the Sprint Cup Series this season.
But Edwards does know one thing -- he'd rather be racing.
For the first time since 2004, Edwards is taking a break from racing in the Nationwide Series, and the decrease in track time already has made him antsy.
"I think we've had one off weekend in the last seven years (Cup and Nationwide combined), so this will be the second one in eight years," Edwards said. "I have no clue what I'm going to do. I'm specifically not making any plans right now . . .
"We'll probably just lay low and relax a little bit, but truly, for me, I feel like I've run half as many races as normal by this point in the season. I'm used to running the Nationwide Series so much, so I don't need a weekend off right now as a driver. I need to keep racing . . . I don't feel like I need an off weekend right now."
NEW SPOTTER FOR KAHNE
Kasey Kahne confirmed Friday at Martinsville that former Jeff Gordon spotter Shannon McGlamery will replace Kahne's cousin, Kole Kahne, as spotter for the No. 5 Chevrolet -- on an interim basis.
Kole Kahne drew fire after Kahne wrecked on Lap 24 in the March 18 race at Bristol. The spotter had cleared the driver, but Regan Smith nosed his car to Kahne's outside, and Kahne ignited a multicar wreck when he moved toward the outside wall, thinking he had room.
Kahne, however, said issues last Sunday at California Speedway led to the change. McGlamery will spot the No. 5 car for two weeks, after which Kahne and his team will evaluate the results.
"I'd say it's just something I wanted to do, something different," Kahne said. "I was a little unpleased after California. And we're just looking at something for a couple of weeks. We're going to see after Texas (Apr. 14). I'm going to sit down and sort of decide whether that's the direction I want to go or if I feel comfortable with Kole doing it again."
KYLE PETTY HONORED
Victory Junction Gang Camp founder Kyle Petty will rub elbows with some high-wattage celebrities April 2 as he is honored for his work with the camp that supports children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses.
Petty has earned recognition as part of the "Celebration of Paul Newman's Dream," a fundraiser in Avery Fisher Hall at New York City's Lincoln Center. Newman was the driving force behind the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, a network that includes NASCAR-themed Victory Junction.
Newman's widow, Joanne Woodward, will host the event, which also will feature appearances by Tina Fey, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jimmy Fallon. Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Trisha Yearwood and Josh Groban will perform at the fundraiser.
Kyle Petty and son Austin Petty will accept the honor on behalf of Victory Junction, which Kyle and wife Pattie Petty founded in memory of their son Adam, who lost his life in a racing accident at New Hampshire in May 2000.
Scott Speed is a late entry into the field at Martinsville in the Hamilton Means Racing No. 52 Toyota. Speed has four Nationwide Series starts this season, all in a start-and-park role with Curtis Key's Motorsports Group. Hamilton Means is making its Cup debut in Sunday's race and must qualify on speed in Saturday's time trials . . . Actor Gary Sinise won't be able to make his two planned appearances in Martinsville. Sinise was involved as a passenger in an auto accident on Friday. He was not injured seriously but was forced to cancel his trip to Martinsville. Sinise was scheduled to serve as grand marshal for Sunday's race, and his Lt. Dan Band was to have played a charity concert at Martinsville High School on Saturday night. The concert, promoted by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation to benefit triple amputee Cpl. J.B. Kerns, will be rescheduled . . . Jeff Gordon topped the speed charts for both of Friday's Cup practices. As the fastest car in the first session, Gordon will be last to make a qualifying run on Saturday.
Updated March 30, 2012