BRISTOL, TENN. (AP) - Sunday's race at Bristol Motor Speedway marks the one-year anniversary of a pivotal moment in Brian Vickers' career.
Out of a job and trying to repair his reputation after a rough close to the 2011 season, he got a shot as a fill-in on Mark Martin's partial schedule at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Vickers seized the opportunity, leading 125 laps en route to a fifth-place finish on what was an all-around banner day for MWR as Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer finished third and fourth.
"Last year at this track really did a lot for me personally," Vickers recalled Saturday. "My confidence, but also for the team, just in general. It was great to run up front, lead laps, contend for a win."
Vickers ran eight races for MWR and finished inside the top 10 in five of them. He now seems to be a fit in that organization and is down for nine races this year in Martin's car.
It also paved the way for his return to the Nationwide Series, where he's racing for the championship for Joe Gibbs Racing 10 years after his title.
Vickers finished third on Saturday and is fifth in the series standings, 30 points behind leader Sam Hornish Jr.
"Today was a good solid points day for us and tomorrow is all about going for a win," he said.