Brian Vickers set to drive for Tony Stewart at Daytona

12 Comments

Brian Vickers will drive for Tony Stewart at Daytona International Speedway provided he is cleared by NASCAR, a source close to the situation confirmed to NBC Sports.

The Associated Press first reported the move.

Vickers, who previously has had bouts with blood clots, must be cleared medically by NASCAR, obtain his license and go through other preseason requisites. Multiple sources told NBC Sports that as of Wednesday afternoon, Vickers still was completing the process of medical approval by NASCAR.

Stewart-Haas Racing has scheduled a Friday news conference to announce whom it plans to put in Stewart’s car at Daytona. The team needs a driver after Stewart suffered a burst fracture of the L1 vertebrae in an all-terrain vehicle accident last month.

Stewart is eligible for Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited, and NASCAR is considering if to allow his team to compete in the non-points race even though Vickers is not eligible for the event. Eligibility for the Sprint Unlimited is tied to the driver, not the car or team.

Vickers, 32 , ran two races last season, missing the start of the year as he recovered from blood clots. He made his season debut at Las Vegas, finishing 15th. He placed 18th at Phoenix. He was sidelined the following week after a recurrence of blood clots and did not race the rest of the season.

Filling in for Stewart would reunite Vickers with former crew chief Rodney Childers — the crew chief for Kevin Harvick, Stewart’s teammate at SHR. Vickers and Childers combined to win at New Hampshire in July 2013 for Michael Waltrip Racing, the most recent of Vickers’ three career Cup wins. Vickers’ other two Cup wins came in 2009 at Michigan with Red Bull Racing and in 2006 at Talladega with Hendrick Motorsports.

Vickers missed the final 25 races of the 2010 season after suffering from blood clots. He returned to run a full schedule in 2011. Vickers ran a limited schedule in 2012 and 2013 for Michael Waltrip Racing. He also drove three races for Joe Gibbs Racing in place of Denny Hamlin after Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his back in a crash at Auto Club Speedway in 2013. Vickers returned to a full schedule in 2014 but suffered from blood clots in the offseason.