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Blood Problems Again Sideline Vickers

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 20 2015

Brian Vickers will take another leave of absence from driving for Michael Waltrip Racing. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Brian Vickers’ NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career again has been placed on hold.

Vickers has experienced a reoccurrence of blood clots, prompting the 31-year-old to begin taking a blood-thinning medication that will prevent him from competing in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Michael Waltrip Racing has tapped Brett Moffitt to drive the No. 55 Janssen Toyota Camry this weekend, working with crew chief Billy Scott.

“First and foremost our thoughts are with Brian and his family,” Michael Waltrip, MWR founder and co-owner, said in a statement. “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 underwent a heart patch procedure in 2010, limiting him to starts in only 11 of 36 races. Blood clots in 2013 forced him to miss three races. Vickers underwent surgery on Dec. 13, 2014 to repair the 2010 patch. “At the hospital they discovered my body was rejecting an artificial patch that was inserted in 2010 to fix a hole in my heart,” Vickers said.”The procedure was painful but it went great and they feel better about my heart than before.”

Vickers subsequently sat-out the 2015 season’s first two races while recovering from the surgery. Waltrip drove the No. 55 in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway and Moffitt took over at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Vickers returned at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and posted a 15th-place finish. Vickers placed 41st at Phoenix International Raceway last Sunday.

“Thankfully, because I recognized the signs and symptoms, the doctors caught this early and I’m going to be OK,” Vickers said. “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.”

Since last year Vickers has partnered with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a company working to solve unmet medical needs in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, as well as cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

“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,” Vickers said.”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.”

Vickers has scored eight top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 60 races in the No. 55 Toyota. He won the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2013 and captured the pole at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2014. The 2003 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion owns three victories and 12 poles in 318 career Sprint Cup starts.

Moffitt, 22, of Grimes, Iowa, finished eighth at AMS on March 1 driving the No. 55. He also has raced twice for Front Row Motorsports this season.

With Moffitt’s move to MWR, Chris Buescher will make his Cup Series debut in Front Row’s No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford Fusion this weekend.

“I’ve run a lot of Cup test sessions and throughout the years I’ve done a lot at Roush Fenway on the Cup side, but this will be the first race,” Buescher said.”The circumstances that bring it about are not ideal. We wish Brian Vickers the best and want to try to do the best we can for Front Row Motorsports now at this point.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 20 2015
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