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Head2Head: Will Brian Vickers get a full Cup ride in 2013?

NASCAR.com

Another random week, another fine performance by Brian Vickers. The sub of a sub at Michael Waltrip Racing just put in his third top-five finish in six races at the short track of Bristol in the IRWIN Tools Night Race. Once again, that's three top-five's ... for a part-time driver. That trio of cincos equals Marcos Ambrose and Ryan Newman, while bettering the amount of top-fives for Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard. Half of those drivers are on the fringe of a Chase birth and all of them are in the top 20 in points in the Sprint Cup Series. They all also have full-time Cup rides. Vickers does not.

Vickers is part of a solid team in Michael Waltrip Racing, albeit for less than a quarter of the 2012 season, so he's not completely out on the skids. But results like that can't be ignored, and while it's tough to land a Cup ride, there is also a lot of movement among seats on the circuit. So, that begs a question: Will Brian Vickers get a full Cup ride in 2013? Mark Aumann and Nick Margiasso are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Read their arguments and weigh in with your own in the comments below.

Will Brian Vickers get a full Cup ride in 2013?

YES NO

You can argue his results, but you can't dispute the talent. Brian Vickers just seems to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time since his 2003 Nationwide Series championship.

The prevailing thought is he didn't do much at Hendrick Motorsports, except score a controversial win at Talladega in 2006 when he wound up spinning Jimmie Johnson on the last lap. But you know what? The guy who replaced him -- Casey Mears -- won the same number of races for the organization.

Vickers then took a built-from-the-ground-up team to the Chase in three seasons, and might have repeated the feat in 2010 if not for the open-heart surgery that sidelined him for the rest of the year.

And when he finally got back in the seat -- and started showing signs of regaining his edge with top-five finishes at New Hampshire and Talladega -- the team went belly up, leaving Vickers out of work.

So what did Vickers do? Lead 125 laps and finish fifth at Bristol in his first race back this season, then back that up with a fourth at Sonoma and another top-five finish last weekend at arguably the toughest track on the circuit.

What else does the guy have to do to show he's as talented as anybody currently being mentioned for a ride? Plus, he won't even turn 29 until October. Mark my words: Brian Vickers will land a full-time Cup ride in 2013. Where? I have no idea, but the kid definitely deserves to catch a break.

Mark Aumann, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

In a perfect world, Brian Vickers would be a fan favorite for the foreseeable future hailing from the waving tobacco fields of Cup-crazed North Carolina.

But this is the real world, and although it would be hard to argue no to whether Vickers SHOULD get a shot at a full Cup ride for 2013 -- he's as deserving as anyone else without a sturdy hold on one -- the operative word is WILL he get it?

That answer, unfortunately, is no.

A Cup seat is maybe the toughest single job to get in all of sports, and you either need to be a Cup veteran, a hot-shot youngster or a media hot-button. Like it or not, that's how it is.

So, sure, Vickers has done a nice job in a part-part-time role with the No. 55 at Michael Waltrip Racing this season. But Cup rides are rare, and we already have the hot-shot youngster (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) and the media hot-button (Danica Patrick) locked in for 2013 -- and musical contracts will eventually seat Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Regan Smith.

That leaves Trevor Bayne, Sam Hornish Jr. and Elliott Sadler as the next in mind that fit the above description. One of those is a Daytona 500 winner, one is currently auditioning well for the open seat he's physically in each week and the other is a likable veteran about to win a Nationwide championship.

So, where does that leave Mr. Vickers for 2013? In another handful of races for MWR. Sorry -- there's always 2014, Brian.

Nick Margiasso, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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