NASCAR on NBC podcast, Episode V: Brian Vickers

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Brian Vickers, the NBC Sports analyst who returned to NASCAR after a nearly yearlong layoff, joins the fifth episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast.

Subbing for injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Chevrolet, Vickers finished 26th in the season-opening Daytona 500 after running as high as fourth with fewer than 25 laps to go. It was his first Sprint Cup race since he was sidelined by a recurrence of blood clots heading into the March 2015 race at Auto Club Speedway.

Since then Vickers has spent much of his life traveling the world on business and working a new “day job” – as a studio presence on NBC Sports’ “NASCAR America.”

A promising career – he was the 2003 Xfinity series champion and has three Cup wins and a Chase berth – has been derailed by health problems that permitted only two full seasons since 2010. But the Thomasville, N.C., native said he is at peace if racing a car can’t be the center of his universe anymore.

Was there a moment that helped him arrive at that place?

“I think it starts with almost dying two or three times,” Vickers deadpanned. “That’s always a good way to accomplish that.”

Vickers, who will race the No. 14 again this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, also discusses:

–The last-minute scramble to get to Speedweeks, which he hadn’t planned on attending (but thankfully had a motorhome available for use).

–The globe-trotting he has done over the past year (to places as varied as Lichtenstein, Australia and Costa Rica) for the firm he became a partner in last year.

–His prospects for Sunday at Las Vegas and what he might be racing beyond this weekend.

Because Vickers is a busy man, we caught him on the run while heading into the Stamford, Conn., studio to tape Monday’s “NASCAR America,” so there are a few brief instances toward the end in which the audio is slightly choppy.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking below or download and subscribe to it on iTunes by clicking here.