ATLANTA - When NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) driver Brian Vickers climbs in the No. 55 Toyota at Kentucky Speedway on June 29 for the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts he and his Aaron's Dream Machine will sport Univ. of Louisville colors and a paint scheme honoring the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship team. 

The Cardinal Bird mascot on the hood and Vickers' red, black and white fire suit will pay tribute to the school whose campus is about 60 miles from the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. 

"This will certainly help my popularity with local fans that weekend," laughed Vickers, who will drive Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 55 in the nationally-televised race. 

"I'm a big fan of sports in general so to have the national champions on board is a huge honor. They are winners and it's always cool to surround yourself with success. Our goal is to make them proud." 

One of Vickers' strongest supporters is well known not only in the Bluegrass state but also across the nation. 

"We're thrilled Aaron's and Brian Vickers have chosen to run the Louisville colors during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Kentucky Speedway," said Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. "I know how many Louisville basketball fans are NASCAR fans, and like them I'm looking forward to seeing the car on the track. I think one of those die cast cars might eventually make it to my office. I've seen the paint scheme and it's really sharp." 

At last year's Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts, MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip drove an Aaron's/ University of Kentucky themed paint scheme. The Owensboro, Ky. native and 2010 Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame inductee admits seeing the Louisville colors on one of his cars makes him proud.

 "Like everyone in Kentucky I grew up watching basketball. It's a part of our culture and tradition," said Waltrip. "We have so many great teams in our state that when March Madness rolls around it is just a great time of the year for everyone.

 "Last year our Kentucky Wildcats won the championship and I got to race the car at Kentucky Speedway. This year we have the Louisville Cardinals on the car and we get to honor them as well. I've always been a huge fan of Rick Pitino and it means the world to me to join him and celebrate with Louisville." 

At the May 5 Talladega race, Aaron's and Michael Waltrip Racing honored the University of Alabama's BCS National Championship football team. It marked the fourth consecutive year Aaron's honored Alabama or Auburn University championship football teams with a special paint scheme. 

Aaron's said it was natural to honor Cardinal Nation at the race.   

"Aaron's is proud to feature the University of Louisville basketball championship paint scheme on the No. 55 Dream Machine at Kentucky Speedway," said Rich Lamprey, Aaron's Director of Sports and Event Marketing. "We have a history of showcasing collegiate championships on our racecars to highlight our brand's involvement in collegiate sports. We hope that NASCAR fans and college sports fans alike will appreciate the Louisville paint scheme, and we look forward to Brian bringing the Cardinals to the checkered flag in Kentucky." 

U of L supporters and alumni can support Vickers in his second Sprint Cup start at the speedway by taking advantage of a special Cardinal Takeover ticket package that includes admission to a hospitality tent with food and complimentary beverages, a Fan Zone pass that provides race-day admission to the infield for pit road access and a trackside view of a prerace concert with Billy Currington. 

"Like everyone, we were thrilled with the Cardinals national championship run. This car pays tribute to their excellence and brings attention to the whole Cardinal Nation, which has enjoyed an incredible sports year. The way things have gone, I would not be surprised to see the Cardinals car in Victory Lane," said Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said.  

The first 200 fans to attend the Cardinal Takeover also will receive a collectible red miniature Louisville Slugger bat with the race logo emblazoned in gold. Cardinal Takeover packages can be purchased on the tickets pages of this website, by calling (859) 578-2300 or visiting the Kentucky Speedway ticket office at 1 Speedway Drive, Sparta, Ky., 41086 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.