With more than 100 wins in his racing career - from go-karts to stock cars - Brian Vickers is very familiar with victory lane. So, when he pulled his No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine into New Hampshire Motor Speedway's victory lane last July, it was familiar territory for the native of Thomasville, N.C.
But the feeling was unlike anything he's ever experienced before.
Less than three years after being diagnosed with blood clots in his legs and lungs, Vickers battled through medications, blood thinners and rehabilitation before watching it all culminate with a win at the Magic Mile in the July 14, 2013 Camping World RV Sales 301.
"Obviously the win was huge. I think a win any time in the Sprint Cup Series is a huge accomplishment," said Vickers, following a long day of testing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Tuesday. "I think that win was very special (because) it was my first win with the team and with Aaron's Dream Machine and the 55. But it was also special because of everything I kind of went through personally - health wise, in and out of the Series, in and out of a car. I didn't know if I would ever race again and to be into victory lane was great."
A win again on July 13 in the Camping World RV Sales 301 would have serious implications in a wide variety of facets. Not only would it end the Magic Mile's streak of 12 consecutive different winners, but it would be Vickers' first of the season. That would give him the inside track at clinching a spot in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, which has put an emphasis on winning races this season.
Of course, Vickers knows that another win at the 1.058-mile oval is no guarantee just because he raced it well last year.
"You obviously always feel good about coming to a track that you've won at to an extent, but everything changes so much," said Vickers. "Because of all the new rule changes to the new car and the no-ride heights, none of the setup is the same. It's not like we can throw in last year's setup and go fast. We have to adapt and change and find a new package to win just like everyone else."
Vickers will likely be a fan favorite when the field speeds to green on July 13. His out-of-car high-five fest with fans on the frontstretch went a long way in showing his appreciation to the fans for everything he's been through.
"It's a great racetrack and the fans here are awesome," he said, "… we love it."