(Updated) Michael Waltrip on Brian Vickers setback: ‘Did we think it would happen? No’


Team owner Michael Waltrip said Friday morning that it’s too early to know how long Brian Vickers, who suffered a reoccurrence of blood clot issues Thursday night, will be out of the No. 55 Toyota Camry.

“He’s in the care of his doctors and expects to be able to operate normally today,” Waltrip said in a press conference at Auto Club Speedway. “That’s really all the information I have today on what his current state is, other than he feels really good, and he’s really sad.”

Waltrip and Ty Norris, executive vice president at MWR, did not reveal where or the number of blood clots Vickers had. They also did not have a timetable for when Vickers might return.

“He is more susceptible to clots evidently than you and I are. We knew that could be an issue,” Waltrip said. “Are we surprised? Yes. Did we think it would happen? No.

“We support Brian. We love his heart. We love who he is. We don’t know how long he’ll be sidelined. This is all very fluid. We’re learning as we go.”

Norris was the first official from Michael Waltrip Racing to learn about Vickers’ malady.

“I got a phone call at about 1 a.m.,” Norris said. “He’s disappointed in the result. But Brian has a lot of things in perspective. He was aware of the issue, thought he knew what it was, and it was confirmed. He’s getting the right treatment. As a human being, he’ll be fine. That’s the most important thing.”

Waltrip said Brian Moffitt will drive for Vickers in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. Moffitt, who is under contract to MWR but was on loan to Front Row Motorsports, finished eighth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in place of Vickers three weeks ago.

“He fits in Brian’s seat, so there are no issues at all getting Brett into the car,” Waltrip said. “He’s never run a lap here. That’ll be fun to watch. He certainly overachieved for us at Atlanta. I was afraid that with youthful enthusiasm and exuberance that he would overdo it and mess up, and he was the opposite. He was just smart, methodically made his way through the race and produced a great result at the end, outrunning Brad Keselowski on the same tires.

“I love his heart and spirit and am glad he’ll be able to step in for Brian.”

Waltrip said any plans going forward will be predicated on what is learned further from Vickers, who is in Los Angeles with his doctors. The team likely will have a firm plan next week.

“For the foreseeable future, Brett is definitely our guy,” Waltrip said.

Could the fourth instance of being sidelined by blood clots mean the end of Vickers’ career?

“I just know his heart and passion, and he would not say that, so therefore, I will not say that,” Waltrip said. “I guarantee he would tell you he’ll be back in a couple weeks or months, or whatever the decision comes from his doctors that it will be.

“I expect him to overcome this. It’s obviously a setback for our team and Brian, but we’re just glad that Brian is OK..”

Vickers’ latest reoccurrence comes on the same weekend that Saturday’s Xfinity Series race will be sponsored by Drive4Clots.com. March is Blood Clot Awareness Month.

Kevin Harvick empathized with Vickers during his media availability Friday.

“It’s just a very, very tough situation,” Harvick said. “As you look at all the things that he’s gone through and really, especially the last one with the surgery (to replace a defective patch in his heart last December), and then thinking that everything was just fixed and going to be OK and then you come back and it’s kind of like the same old thing all over again.

“The first thing is I feel bad for Brian because he does have that drive and determination to be in the car. He’s been through a lot to try to get everything fixed, but it just seems like it just keeps creeping back up. It’s just a really unfortunate situation.”

Other drivers reacted on Twitter to Vickers’ news:

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Kevin Harvick wins Bristol night race

Kevin Harvick Bristol
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Kevin Harvick held off Kyle Busch to win Saturday’s Cup night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Harvick came out on top after a spirited battle with Busch over the last forty laps of the race. Harvick claimed his ninth win of the season, a career-best mark. He previous high was eight wins in 2018.

The top five was completed by Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and Aric Almirola. Clint Bowyer finished sixth and was the last car on the lead lap.

Harvick’s nine victories has him on pace to become the first driver to win at least 10 Cup races in a season in more than a decade and only the third driver to reach that mark in the past quarter century.

Jimmie Johnson is the last driver to accomplish the feat. He won 10 races in 2007. The only other driver to reach that mark in the last 25 years is Jeff Gordon. He won 13 races in 1998 and 10 races each in 1996 and ’97.

The last driver not from Hendrick Motorsports to reach at least 10 wins in a season was Rusty Wallace. He won 10 times in 1993 for car owner Roger Penske.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Elliott

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished last after he was eliminated in a crash on Lap 29 after he made contact with Jimmie Johnson … Matt DiBenedetto‘s chances of advancing in the playoffs were dashed when he had to pit for loose right-rear tire on Lap 187 and then was caught speeding on pit road after returning to the lead lap. He finished 19th …. Martin Truex Jr. finished 24th after he had to pit for a tire issue on Lap 214 … Denny Hamlin finished 21st after he rammed into the back of Truex moments after he exited pit road following his stop … William Byron was eliminated from the race and playoff contention late in Stage 2 after he ran into the back of Christopher Bell … Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski placed 34th after he lost power steering early in the final stage and was black flagged for not meeting minimum speeding. After a lengthy stay in the garage, Keselowski returned to the race with about 105 laps left in the race.

WHAT’S NEXT: Round of 12 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 7 p.m. ET Sept. 27 on NBCSN.

Check back for more.

William Byron’s title hopes end in Bristol incident

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William Byron‘s playoffs ended when he ran into the back of a car shortly before halfway in Saturday night’s Cup playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Byron was running 10th and in position to advance to the second round after Saturday’s elimination race before the incident.

Byron told NBCSN’s Marty Snider that Joey Gase‘s car slowed on a straightaway and Byron ran into the back of Christopher Bell‘s car.

“I literally had nowhere to go,” Byron said. “Just ridiculous that’s what takes us out.”

Byron said he was running behind Bell, who was behind Gase, on the high side. Byron said he had Aric Almirola on his inside and could not move down there.

Byron entered the race the first driver outside the final transfer spot to the second round. He entered the race trailing Clint Bowyer by three points.




Three Joe Gibbs Racing cars going to rear for inspection violations

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The cars of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones will start at the rear after each car failed inspection twice before Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Busch enters the race 18 points above the cutline to transfer to the second round of the Cup playoffs. Saturday’s race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Busch was to have started ninth.

This is the second playoff race in a row that Busch’s team has failed inspection twice before the race and had to start at the rear. Busch started at the rear last weekend at Richmond. He finished sixth.

Hamlin has already advanced to the second round via points. He was to have started seventh.

“We’ve got 500 laps,” he said. “If we’re good enough, we’ll get to the front. Not really too worried about it in that sense.”

Jones is not in the playoffs. He would have started 20th.

NASCAR also announced that the cars of Corey LaJoie and Bubba Wallace will start at the rear for unapproved adjustments. JJ Yeley will go to the rear for a driver change since he was not listed on the preliminary entry list for the No. 15 car.

Wallace was to have started 27th. LaJoie was to have started 30th. The No. 15 was to have started 32nd with Brennan Poole as the driver.


Saturday Cup race at Bristol: Start time, TV channel

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Four drivers will be eliminated from the Cup playoffs after Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

This marks the first time the track has been in the playoffs. The Saturday Cup race at Bristol will end the first round. The 16-driver field will be cut to 12.

William Byron (3 points behind the cutline), Cole Custer (-8), Matt DiBenedetto (-25) and Ryan Blaney (-27) are the four drivers out of a playoff spot. Clint Bowyer holds the final transfer spot.

Here is all the info for the Saturday Cup race at Bristol:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines is at 7:38 p.m. The green flag waves at 7:45 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup haulers enter the garage (screening and equipment unload) at 10:30 a.m. Garage access health screening begins at 12:30 p.m. Garage opens at 12:30 p.m. Drivers report to their cars at 7:10 p.m. Driver introductions will be at 7:15 p.m. The invocation is at 7:30 p.m. The national anthem will be performed by Joe Nichols, three-time Grammy nominee, at 7:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 500 laps (266.5 miles) around the .533-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 125. Stage 2 ends on Lap 250

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 7 p.m. Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 62 degrees and a 3% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Brad Keselowski won at Richmond. Martin Truex Jr. finished second. Joey Logano placed third for the second race in a row.

LAST POINTS RACE AT BRISTOL: Brad Keselowski won in May after Denny Hamlin lost the lead when he hit the wall. Chase Elliott ran into Joey Logano as they battled for the lead late in the event.

TO THE REAR: Denny Hamlin (two inspection failures), Kyle Busch (two inspection failures), Erik Jones (two inspection failures), Corey LaJoie (unapproved adjustments), Bubba Wallace (unapproved adjustments), JJ Yeley (driver change).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Cup starting lineup


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