A phone call to Michael Waltrip Racing executive vice president Ty Norris brought news that was as unwelcome as it was unexpected—that beleaguered driver Brian Vickers was sidelined by blood clots for the third time in his career.
“I just received a phone call about one o'clock in the morning (Friday),” Norris said, “and he's obviously disappointed in the result, but Brian has a lot of things in perspective, and the thing in perspective is that he was aware of the issue, thought he knew what it was, it was confirmed, and he's getting the right treatment and, as a human being, he'll be fine moving forward, and that's the most important thing.”
Brett Moffitt has replaced Vickers in the No. 55 MWR Toyota for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX), as he did three weeks ago in Atlanta when Vickers missed the first two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races of the season while recovering from offseason heart surgery.
Vickers has been placed on blood thinners to combat the clots and is precluded from racing while on that medication. The length of his absence from racing is indeterminate.
“For the foreseeable future Brett is definitely our guy,” team owner Michael Waltrip said. “This just happened, so Rob (Kaufmann, team co-owner) is in England, and Ty and I have been in constant contact with Rob, and we're going to get through this weekend and we'll have a plan next week to share with everyone.”
Vickers was first diagnosed with blood clots in his legs and lungs in May of 2010 and missed the final 25 races of the season. In 2013, a recurrence of the issue caused him to miss the last five races of the year.
After the 2014 season, Vickers underwent surgery to seal a hole between the two upper chambers of his heart and was cleared to race for the first time at Las Vegas this year. He finished 15th there and 41st last week at Phoenix, after tangling with the No. 48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson early in the race.
Moffitt, who finished eighth at Atlanta while subbing for Vickers, will be making his 11th Sprint Cup start this week. When Vickers returned to action at Las Vegas, Moffitt drove the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford for two races and was planning to be in that seat at Fontana before Vickers’ symptoms resurfaced.