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LOUDON, N.H. – Confined to a hospital bed a few years ago because of blood clots in his legs and lungs, Brian Vickers wanted to live another day.

Once he recovered, he hungered for a competitive ride. And once he landed a solid seat, well, Vickers simply had to win.

Even when life tossed obstacles in Vickers’ path, his determined spirit never waned. After years of health scares and unemployment put his career in doubt, Vickers kept pushing toward the finish line. He got there Sunday as the surprise winner of the Camping World RV Sales 301, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“Coming here and sitting in victory lane just makes it one of the most special events in my life,” the 29-year-old Vickers said after beating runner-up Kyle Busch by 0.582 seconds.

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Vickers had plenty of drivers pulling for this comeback.

Close friend Jimmie Johnson, a five-time series champion, pumped his fist out the window in pure happiness as if he had won a sixth title.

Jeff Burton placed third.

Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw finished 11th and Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., was 15th of 43.

Vickers did all he could to savor the unforgettable scene.

“When you have so much love and support around you,” Vickers said, “it makes all the difference in the world.”

Vickers even tried to celebrate with the fans, though the New Hampshire gates wouldn’t open to the grandstands. He won for the third time in 271 Cup races.

Note

Scott Dixon swept an IndyCar Series doubleheader in Toronto over the weekend, giving him three victories in a span of eight days.

Dixon won the Pocono IndyCar 400 on July 7 in Long Pond, Pa.

Dixon, who has 32 career victories, earned a $100,000 bonus from series sponsor Sonax for winning both Toronto races.