Brian Vickers looks to continue No. 14 success at his favorite track, Martinsville Speedway

(Getty Images)

It’s a long way from Miami to Martinsville Speedway, but not for Brian Vickers.

The 32-year-old Vickers, who now lives in Miami, is eagerly anticipating next weekend’s return to his home track for the STP 500 at the half-mile bullring in southern Virginia.

Vickers grew up an hour away from Martinsville in Thomasville, North Carolina. It was at Martinsville that Vickers initially became exposed to NASCAR racing up-close and in-person and ultimately led to his becoming a race car driver.

“I actually remember going to Martinsville as a kid and watching races,” Vickers said in a media release. “We stood in the corners before pit road changed and watched the cars go by.

“As a kid, I always thought it was pretty cool the train went by the racetrack. Martinsville has always been a special place for me whether it was as a fan, running my first stock car race there, running Late Models or, now, running in the Cup Series.”


Vickers, who is splitting duties with Ty Dillon in the No. 14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet while Tony Stewart continues to recuperate from an off-season accident, is coming off the top finish for the No. 14 thus far this season, a 13th place showing in last week’s Auto Club 400 in Fontana, California.

“Early in the race I brushed the wall, then cut a tire real bad,” Vickers said. “We were last and down two laps. It would have been easy to hang our heads and just say it wasn’t our day.

“But (crew chief) Mike Bugarewicz and the guys on the No. 14 kept at it. Our car was fast, we had good pit stops and strategy, and climbed right back to the lead lap. It’s pretty cool to be down two laps and last, then be mad you only finished 13th. I thought we were going to get a top-10 for sure. That’s a heck of a compliment to the No. 14 team.”

Making his fourth start of the season in the No. 14, Vickers hopes to keep the momentum from California going at Martinsville – and has some added incentive.

“I’d love to get a clock,” he said of Martinsville’s tradition of giving a race winner a stately grandfather’s clock. “I don’t have one of those yet.

“We’ve come close. We’ve led laps but we need to get a clock. I think it’s a beautiful piece. It’s one of the most unique and special trophies, I think, on the circuit. I know a few guys who have one – it’s one of their prized trophies.”

Auto Club Speedway - Auto Club 400

Vickers has three top-10 finishes and has led 27 laps in 18 career Sprint Cup starts at Martinsville, with an average start and finish of 19th.

Just as he did at Fontana last week (photo right), Vickers will be driving a car at Martinsville carrying sponsorship from Janssen Pharmaceuticals that is promoting Arnold Palmer’s Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation. He knows what Stewart is going through being sidelined, as Vickers has also been forced to sit on the sidelines several times due to chronic blood clot issues.

“I’ve had a lot of fans come up to me and tell me their stories and ask me questions,” Vickers said. “I think my story really resonates with a lot of people because I’m young and I’m an athlete.

“I mean, it’s proof that this can happen to anyone. It has been a powerful moment. I’ve had a lot of people call me up in some of the weirdest places, like friends who will call me up and say, ‘Hey, I’m on an airplane,’ or they text me or call me when they land, ‘My calf hurts and it’s swollen and it’s red.’

“I’m like, ‘Well, you should go see a doctor. Did you not listen to the campaign?’ But there have unquestionably been moments where it’s made a difference. I’ve seen those moments and it’s a very special feeling. It really is.”

As for Stewart, he has begun a rehabilitation program that could hasten his return back behind the wheel in his final season as a Sprint Cup racer. But until then, Vickers is ready to fill in where he’s needed.

“Nothing has really changed,” Vickers said. “I think everyone is really just kind of waiting to see how Tony shakes out.

“I can genuinely and honestly say this – I want to race this car as long as I can because it’s a great team and a great car and a great opportunity.

“But I really want to see Tony back in it. I have been in his shoes. I know exactly what it’s like. It’s his last season. He deserves to be in this car as much as he can be.

“I’m honored to race it as long as I need to and as long as I can, but I’m happy to turn the keys back over as soon as he’s ready.”

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NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.