Vickers Brings Red Bull First Ever Sprint Cup Win, at the MIS

Brian Vickers had started a Sprint Cup race from pole position 5 times before this season, but never could he take it all the way to the chequered flag on Sunday afternoon. Thanks to a great pit strategy and intelligent fuel mileage gamble, the North Carolina resident finally did it today, at the Michigan International Raceway.

By making his first visit to the Victory Lane in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series, Vickers also brought Red Bull their first ever success in NASCAR's premier series.

Although starting from pole position, Vickers had no other choice but to see Hendrick Motorsports' Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson driving away from the pack in the early stages of the race. As the action at the MIS progressed, it was pretty clear that the fastest cars would go on to gamble their way to the chequered flag on fuel mileage.

Following the last restart with 38 laps to go, it seemed nothing was going to stop Johnson from clinching another Sprint Cup win this season. The Hendrick motorsport driver was joined by Vickers on top of the field, with both drivers trying to save as much fuel as possible to get to the finish line.

Vickers handed the initiative to Johnson and stayed in his draft for as long as possible in the final laps of the race, and the strategy paid off. The reigning Cup champion ran out of fuel with 3 laps to go, while Vickers cruised to his first win of the season. Behind him, another driver who gambled on fuel mileage was Jeff Gordon, whose fuel under normal circumstance would have left him out of gas with 8 laps to go.

However, the Hendrick Motorsport managed to run in fuel-saving mode well enough to avoid such an unfortunate end, and eventually secured 2nd place overall. By doing so, he also progressed to 2nd place in the overall classification in front of Johnson, who eventually finished the race in 33rd place.

It was tough, there was a part of me that was terrified because I knew there was a chance that we would run out (of fuel), but there was a part of me that was kind of excited,” said Vickers after the race, whose win lifted him only 12 points behind 12th placed Mark Martin in the overall standings (with 3 laps to go to the Chase).

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally made a Top 5 appearance this year by securing 3rd place at the finish line, just ahead of Carl Edwards and Sam Hornish Jr. Mark Martin, the winner of this year's first Cup race at the MIS, also paid tribute to his fuel mileage strategy and ran out of gas in the final laps, as he eventually finished in 31st place overall. Championship leader Tony Stewart failed to get his car up to speed all day and eventually had to settle for 17th place overall.
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