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: