“Wins help a lot of business issues. So this was a great day for that,” MWR general manager Ty Norris said. “He’s been our focus. We would love to have him in that car.”
Vickers snapped a 75-race winless streak and hadn’t won since the August 2009 race at Michigan. He won his first career Cup race in August 2006 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Vickers made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in 2009, only to be sidelined most of the next season with blood clots. He had two procedures to close a hole in his heart and insert a stent into a vein in his left leg.
After Red Bull Racing shut down after the 2011 season, Vickers hooked on with a limited ride with MWR. He has been driving full-time this season in the Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing.
With his first checkered flag since his return, he is done looking back.
“That’s why I came back,” he said. “For what’s to be, not what’s happened.”
Kyle Busch was second and Jeff Burton third. Pole winner Brad Keselowski was fourth and Aric Almirola fifth.
Jimmie Johnson brushed off his 43rd-place start to finish sixth. Tony Stewart was running inside the top 10 at the final caution until he ran out of fuel and plummeted to 26th.
“It’s hard to calculate how much we are saving on the cautions,” Stewart said. “We thought we were about three-quarters of a lap to the good before that last caution. Obviously, we didn’t save as much as I thought we would.”
Busch and Vickers finished 1-2 in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. Both drivers had to stretch their fuel, and Vickers ran out just as he crossed the finish line.
He was in a similar spot again down the stretch a race later. He had just enough to zip past Stewart with 13 laps left and then pull away in the green-white-checkered finish. He didn’t run out until it was time for the celebratory burnout.