Vickers gets full ride with Michael Waltrip Racing
Michael Waltrip Racing announced Tuesday that Vickers will drive the No. 55 Aaron's Toyota for a full Sprint Cup schedule beginning next season. Andrea Freeman, the vice president of marketing for Aaron's Inc., says the sponsorship deal is for both the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Vickers said he’s “ecstatic” about the decision.
“I feel like I’ve found a home here at MWR,” Vickers told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “I’m partnered with a great team. A lot of it is about chemistry. Sometimes it’s hard to find that right mesh, but when you find it, you know it.”
The 29-year-old Vickers has endured plenty of adversity the last three years.
His racing career was derailed in May 2010 when 11 races into the season doctors discovered blood clots in his legs and lungs. Two months later he underwent two procedures to close a hole in his heart and insert a stent into a vein in his left leg.
Vickers said at the time he didn’t know if he’d recover, let alone drive a stock car again.
He was medically cleared to return to racing in 2011 but his team struggled and he finished a disappointing 25th in the point standings. After the season he was dealt another blow when Red Bull pulled out of Cup racing leaving Vickers without a full-time ride.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had a ride, so this feels great,” Vickers said with a laugh.
Vickers called the last few years of his life “a rollercoaster ride,” but believes his best racing is ahead of him.
“I’m still in my 20s and have more than 10 years of experience and a lot of life lessons that I think will only contribute to more wisdom on the track and more success,” he said.
Vickers said getting a full sponsorship deal like this would have made him happy regardless, but given his health problems in recent years it makes it extra special.
He said there were times he didn’t know if anyone would ever take a chance on him again.
“Oh, of course,” Vickers said. “Between everything that has happened between the health issues and being in the hospital to Red Bull shutting down, did it come to mind? Absolutely.