Blood clots send Vickers to sidelines
Medical issues are once again putting NASCAR driver Brian Vickers in park.
Michael Waltrip Racing, the team that fields the cars driven by the Thomasville native in the Sprint Cup Series, announced Monday that Vickers has developed a blood clot in his right calf and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.
In a release from the team, Vickers said he will be not be able to drive because of the blood thinners that have been prescribed as part of his treatment. Vickers became the full-time driver of MWR’s No. 55 earlier this season and also drives the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series.
MWR said in a release that the clot was found during a medical examination on Monday.
A similar condition and heart surgery caused Vickers to miss the last six months of the 2010 season, when he was with now-defunct Red Bull Racing.
Vickers is slated to drive the No. 55 next year. He began this season as its driver for 10 races, scored the team’s most recent win in July at New Hampshire and became its main driver when Mark Martin left in August to sub for Tony Stewart.
“If there’s anything to be positive about with today’s news it’s that this is only a temporary setback,” Vickers said in the release. “The timing for this is never good, but I’m glad we’ll get it out of the way now and be ready to run for a championship with the Aaron’s Dream Machine in 2014.”
Team owner Michael Waltrip was already scheduled to drive the No. 55 this weekend at Talladega, giving the team time to find a replacement for Vickers over the last four races of the season, beginning next week at Martinsville.
The Nationwide Series is idle this weekend and next weekend before resuming the first Saturday in November at Texas Motor Speedway.
MWR also announced Monday that its plans for next season include reducing its No. 56 from a full-time car to one that is entered in selected races in the Cup Series. The move comes in the wake of sponsor NAPA leaving as part of the fallout from MWR getting in hot water with NASCAR over ordering Vickers and its other driver, Clint Bowyer, to lose positions on purpose last month at Richmond in an effort to get the No. 56’s driver, Martin Truex Jr., in the Chase for the Championship.
As part of the penalty for intentionally affecting the outcome of the Richmond event, NASCAR dropped Truex from the Chase. That was followed by NAPA’s decision to curtail its sponsorship.
MWR said that Truex and his crew chief Chad Johnson have been given clearance to pursue jobs with other teams, and that about 15 percent of the organization’s total work force will be laid off. MWR said it will also continue to field its No. 15 in all the Sprint Cup races.