Despite having to wait three more weeks to be cleared to get back behind the wheel of a race car, Brian Vickers showed all who saw him at Thursday’s Daytona 500 Media Day that he’s ready now.
Friday marks two months since Vickers underwent surgery to repair an artificial patch that his body had begun to reject. The patch had been in place since Vickers had surgery to fix a hole in his heart in 2010.
“I’m feeling good, considering everything,” said Vickers, who will make his series return next month at Las Vegas. “It’s amazing with everything that’s happened and how fast the recovery has been and how well I feel now relative to how I felt a month ago or two months ago much less.”
Even with as good as he feels, Vickers will miss the first two races of the 2015 Sprint Cup season – Daytona and the following week at Atlanta – before he’s medically cleared to race at Las Vegas.
“I feel like I could be back in a car now, but they’re still going to make me wait a few weeks,” Vickers said of his doctors.
Much like any other athlete recovering from an injury, Vickers has been undergoing a treatment program to get him back into driving shape.
“I think there’s a lot that people don’t realize, what you have to go through and the physical aspect of racing,” Vickers said. “I’ve been training a lot … as much as the doctors will let me, trying to get ready for the season.”
In place of Vickers, team co-owner Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 55 Toyota Camry at Daytona, and Brett Moffitt will drive at Atlanta.
“I’ll only be a couple races behind this year on the rest of the field, so hopefully it won’t be too much,” Vickers said.
Even though he won’t be in the car in those two races, he’ll still be at the racetrack to support his team.
“That’s my job,” Vickers said. “To be honest, I would rather not have to watch (someone else drive for him) because it’s tough. You want to be in the race car.
“At the same time, I feel so blessed to have an amazing team, an amazing group of guys that support me through so much and I want to be there for them.”
While he’s essentially ready now, Vickers’ doctors want him to wait just a bit longer to make sure his heart is as ready as his spirit.
“I’m good to go,” he said. “There’s no more doctors’ visits. They said, ‘Come March 5, go to the race track and have fun.’”