|(Photo by Jared C. Tilton|
/Getty Images Sport)
Auto Club Speedway was the site of Red Bull Racing’s first-ever top 10 finish, achieved by Brian Vickers in February 2007, and this season it is the place where Vickers earned his second top 10 since returning to racing.
Since his start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in 2003 at the age of 19, Vickers has achieved two career wins and 11 poles.
The 2009 season was his best to date, earning himself and Red Bull Racing a spot in the Chase with one win, four top 5s, 13 top 10s and six poles.
These days, perhaps Vickers has even more of a reason to succeed.
Last year in May, Vickers was diagnosed with multiple blood clots in his leg, lungs and finger.
It was later discovered that Vickers also had a hole in his heart, as well as May-Thurner Syndrome, a rare condition involving the formation of blood clots in the left leg.
In July, just two months after his initial diagnosis, Vickers underwent heart surgery and had a stent placed in his left leg.
Vickers missed the final 25 races of the season and there was much speculation as to when he would return to racing, if ever.
Rumors were put to rest after Vickers and Red Bull Racing announced he would return to the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota for the 2011 season.
In January, Vickers found himself back in the car for a two-day test session with teammate Kasey Kahne (driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota) at Disney Speedway in Orlando.
The first five races of the season have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Vickers, finishing 30th or worst for three out of the five.
Vickers and the No. 83 team attribute the inconsistency to getting caught up in wrecks and an overall lack of luck.
At Sunday’s race in Fontana, things seemed to turn around when Vickers attained his second top 10 of the season.
His 8th place finish in Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway has moved him up seven spots in the points to 24th.
In a pre-season interview during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour, Vickers spoke of what it was like to be out of the car, watching from the sidelines and his expectations for the upcoming season.
“ I love racing, I love what I do," Vickers said.
“I’ve been very fortunate to do it for a long time. No matter how much you love something, it’s human nature to lose sight of that sometimes and to get tired of things and grow old of things. Being able to step back and lose what you love most really makes you appreciate it. I think that’s going to show up on the race track, in my driving, my determination and my focus in a lot of things.”
So far, so good.
This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville, where Vickers finished sixth last spring.