Effort Worthy of an Award
And the Oscar for Comeback Driver of the Race goes to … Brian Vickers!
Driver No. 83 came from the back to finish 10th in Sunday night’s Auto Club 500 — no easy achievement considering Vickers’ pole-winning run Friday was wiped out by an engine change. So Vickers rolled off 37th at the green flag and began his ascent.
By the first yellow flag for rain seven laps in, Vickers was up to 27th. By lap 50, he was 14th, as his Red Bull Toyota continued to show the speed that won him his sixth career pole and second at the 2-mile track.
The race became a series of long green-flag runs interrupted by periodic showers (four of the five cautions were for rain), and Vickers found himself a lap down but still driving one of the fastest cars on the track. Just past the 100-to-go mark, Vickers passed the No. 9 to get in lucky dog position, and a much-needed caution waved 10 laps later.
Vickers was back on the lead lap in 17th and entered his final pit stop with 40 laps to go running 12th. The No. 83 crew churned out an efficient stop to move Vickers into the top 10, where he stayed for his fourth top 10 in 11 Fontana starts.
The 25-year-old moved up 14 positions in points to 26th.
Teammate Scott Speed started ninth and finished 41st, pulling his No. 82 Red Bull Toyota into the garage inside 75 laps to go because of a broken exhaust system. The No. 82 sits 42nd in owner points after race No. 2 of Speed’s rookie campaign.