Vickers to miss rest of season with blood clot
By JENNA FRYER
The Associated press | October 15,2013
Brian Vickers, left, speaks with Juan Pablo Montoya prior to qualifying for last Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
CONCORD, N.C. — Brian Vickers will miss the rest of the NASCAR season because of a blood clot in his right calf.
The clot was found after a Monday examination and he was placed on blood-thinning medication that will prevent him from racing. Vickers missed the final 25 races of the 2010 season with blood clots, and during that time required heart surgery.
He said in a statement his physicians are confident he’ll be able to resume activity before the 2014 season.
“If there’s anything to be positive about with today’s news it’s that this is only a temporary setback,” Vickers said. “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.”
Michael Waltrip Racing named Vickers the full-time driver of the No. 55 Toyota in August. He’d previously shared the seat with Mark Martin and team co-owner Michael Waltrip.
Waltrip had already planned to drive the car this weekend at Talladega, and the team said it will decide later on its driver for the remaining four Sprint Cup Series races.
“We were just informed this morning and our concern is for Brian’s health,” MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman said. “Anything else will be worked out in due course.”
There was no immediate word from Joe Gibbs Racing on who will finish the Nationwide Series schedule for Vickers.
Vickers was scheduled to participate in a Monday test at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but MWR used Brett Moffitt instead.
Vickers has run 22 races with MWR. He has 10 top-10 finishes and won at New Hampshire in July, a victory that solidified his full-time hiring in the No. 55. The win ended a 75-race winless streak for Vickers.
His hiring by MWR was to mark a return to a full Cup ride for Vickers, who last ran for the championship at NASCAR’s top level in 2011. He lost that seat when Red Bull Racing pulled out of NASCAR and Vickers ran just eight Cup races in 2012 for MWR.
He was hired by JGR this year to run for the Nationwide title, 10 years after he won the series championship driving for Hendrick Motorsports. But Vickers is winless in Nationwide this season and eighth in the standings.
Michael Waltrip Racing cutting to 2 full teams
CONCORD, N.C. — Michael Waltrip Racing will run only two full-time cars next season because of the loss of sponsor NAPA, part of the fallout from its attempts to manipulate a race to get Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase.
Truex, crew chief Chad Johnston and 15 percent of the workforce were notified Monday they are free to negotiate with other teams.
The car Truex drives will be repurposed into a research and development team next season. It will run a partial schedule beginning with the Daytona 500 with team co-owner Michael Waltrip behind the wheel. It does not appear the team will use Truex’s No. 56 on the car next season.
“Today was about doing what we had to do not what we wanted to do,” team co-owner Rob Kauffman said. “It was important to let those whose jobs were affected know as early as possible, and a majority of those will remain with MWR through the end of the season.”
Truex has been talking to Furniture Row Racing about the seat being vacated by Kurt Busch.
The meetings with Kauffman and Waltrip and their employees Monday were interrupted when driver Brian Vickers informed the owners that a blood clot had been found in his right calf. He was placed on blood-thinning medication that will prevent him from finishing the season in the No. 55 Toyota.
The team had previously planned to use co-owner Waltrip in this week’s race at Talladega, and said it will decide later on its driver for the remaining four races.
Vickers was scheduled to participate in a Monday test at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but MWR had Brett Moffitt ready to drive.
It’s been one hit after another since the Sept. 7 race at Richmond, where MWR was found to have manipulated the finish in an attempt to get Truex into the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
It began when Clint Bowyer deliberately spun to bring out a caution, setting in motion a chain of events that led to a widespread NASCAR investigation. NASCAR fined MWR $300,000, suspended general manager Ty Norris indefinitely and replaced Truex in the Chase field with Ryan Newman, who likely would have won the race and earned a spot in the Chase before Bowyer’s spin.
In punishing MWR, NASCAR ruled that the only thing it could prove was that Norris intentionally called Vickers down pit road in the closing laps to adjust the finish.
NAPA, a longtime partner of Waltrip’s, then said it was pulling its multimillion-dollar sponsorship of Truex’s team with two years remaining on its contract because it “believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR.”
As part of the reorganizational changes announced Monday, MWR said executive vice president of competition Scott Miller will continue as crew chief of the No. 55 team into the 2014 season. He’d been interim crew chief since Rodney Childers was taken off the pit stand in August when he said he was moving to Stewart-Haas Racing next season.
“Our goals for the reorganization were twofold — firstly to improve the competitiveness of our race teams and, secondly, maintain a stable organizational structure,” Kauffman said. “The team’s focus has been to find that last 1 percent needed to move from Chase participant to Cup champion. This realignment will get us closer to that last 1 percent.”