NASCAR Sprint Cup pit crew member has open-heart surgery

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Nick Krizmanich, a backup tire changer at Chip Ganassi Racing, was scheduled to have open-heart surgery today, Pittalks.com reported.  The team confirmed Krizmanich is having surgery.

Krizmanich told Pittalks.com that an aortic insufficiency was discovered during a physical. He told Pittalks.com that doctors “will be replacing the main aortic valve in my heart through open-heart surgery. Apparently the valve I was born with has a defect and doesn’t close all the way, not allowing blood to fully pump though my heart and body.”

Krizmanich was working in a junkyard and had moved back with his parents in 2004 when he saw a commercial for the NASCAR Technical Institute and decided to leave his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to work in NASCAR. He lived about four years in a trailer and worked as a waiter while in school. After graduating, he volunteered with various race teams until he was severely injured in a boating accident.

After about six months of recovery, he volunteered for some race teams but had to go back to being a waiter/bartender before joining Kevin Conway’s Sprint Cup team in 2010. Krizmanich’s work impressed others and he joined Denny Hamlin‘s team at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2011. He also has been on Brad Keselowski‘s pit crew before moving to Chip Ganassi Racing. Krizmanich served on Kyle Larson‘s pit crew last year.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with expenses.