Brian Vickers once again has been benched by medical issues. This will be the fourth time in his career. Vickers made his first start for the 2015 season two weeks ago at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, after having emergency surgery in mid-December for corrective heart surgery, and recovering from the surgery.
In Vickers two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts this season, Vickers finished 15th at LVMS for the Kobalt 400; and 41st after an early accident forced the team to make lengthy repairs at Phoenix International Raceway for the CampingWorld.com 500
Friday morning Michael Waltrip Racing announced at Auto Club Speedway that Vickers will be out of the #55 Toyota for the foreseeable future after a recurrence of blood clots. The team enlisted Brett Moffitt to pilot the #55 Toyota for the Auto Club 400 this weekend. The team did not give a timetable for Vickers’ return.
“First and foremost our thoughts are with Brian and his family,” said Michael Waltrip, MWR founder and co-owner. “He isn’t just our race car driver, he is our friend and we know the NASCAR community will continue to rally around Brian. We are fortunate to have Brett Moffitt in our system and marveled at his great drive in Atlanta three weeks ago, so we know he can get the job done in the No. 55 this weekend. As this news is very fresh and the situation is very fluid, we can only plan for this weekend at this point.”
Vickers was cleared by his doctors on Jan.21, with the condition that he would skip the season-opener the Daytona 500 and the following weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the 56th Annual Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
Once again Vickers will use a blood-thinning medication to treat the clots and while taking the blood thinners he will be unable to race. Vickers has three victories and 12 poles in 318 career NASCAR Sprint Cup starts.
“Thankfully, because I recognized the signs and symptoms, the doctors caught this early and I’m going to be OK,” said Vickers. “I had finished my treatment for the clot I had in my leg back in 2013 and I haven’t needed to be on a blood thinner for a clot in my leg or lung since. Now I won’t be able to race because I’ll need to be back on a blood thinner. I’m going to follow doctor’s orders and do everything I need to do to get well.
“Believe it or not, it’s Blood Clot Awareness Month and I was supposed to be at the track this weekend doing some work with my partners at Janssen focused on getting the word out. I’m disappointed I can’t be there but if there is a silver lining in all of this, hopefully what’s happened to me will help to raise awareness on this important health issue,” said Vickers.
On two previous occasions Vickers was removed from driving due to blood clots, first in 2010 while driving the #83 Red Bull Toyota for Red Bull Racing team, that is no longer in NASCAR, Vickers competed in 11 races for that season. And again in 2013 Vickers would miss the final four races of the season with blood clots in his leg.
This will be the second time Moffitt has replaced Vickers this season, Moffitt finished eighth driving the #55 Toyota at Atlanta on March 1, and most recently Moffitt, who is under contract with MWR, has been driving for Front Row Motorsports, replacing David Ragan, who has been driving the #18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, subbing for an injured Kyle Busch.
Front Row Motorsports has named Chris Buescher as Moffitt’s replacement. Buescher drives for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series, is to make his first career start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to fill the void in the #34 Ford at Auto Club Speedway.