Michael Waltrip Racing driver had surgery to repair a hole in his heart Brian Vickers will sit out the early portions of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season because of health issues, his Michael Waltrip Racing team announced Monday afternoon. In a statement released by the team, Vickers said he had surgery Saturday to repair a patch covering a hole in his heart. Complications from blood clots have sidelined the 31-year-old driver twice in his career -- for most of the 2010 season and for the latter stages of his part-time schedule in 2013. "First, I want to thank everyone for their sincere support," Vickers said in a statement. "I have faced obstacles before and it has made victory that much sweeter and I know that will be the case again. "My previous experiences have given me a very keen understanding of my body. Late last week, I knew something wasn't right, so I went to the hospital to be checked out. Following several tests, it was discovered that my body was rejecting an artificial patch that was inserted in 2010 to fix a hole in my heart. Saturday, I had to have corrective surgery to repair the hole and now I am beginning the recovery process. I will need plenty of time, rest and rehab but this temporary setback will not stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion." Michael Waltrip Racing did not mention a specific length of time that Vickers would be out of the cockpit. The team release also didn't specify a potential substitute driver for the No. 55 Toyota. " Brian has been a part of the MWR family since 2012 and our thoughts today are with Brian , his wife Sarah and the Vickers family," said Rob Kauffman, the team's co-owner with Michael Waltrip . "As a race team, MWR has plenty to consider and we will confer with our partners, including Aaron’s and Toyota. As this is fresh news, we will adjust our future plans as more information becomes available." Vickers made his first start in NASCAR's premier series in 2003, the year he won the championship in what will become the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015. Vickers has three victories in NASCAR's top division, his most recent coming with Waltrip's team at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July 2013. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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Highlighting the driver star power and authentic story of Brian Vickers , who shares his story of battling blood clots and how Xeralto helped him get back to racing. - Heather Brigham, Director
See what drivers have to say about keeping friendships on the track RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Photo credit: Jim Fluharty/NASCAR Illustrated Is it hard for drivers to maintain friendships with one another? Austin Dillon, Sprint Cup Driver, ( @austindillon3 ) "It's harder for some drivers than it is for others. You just have to learn how to have friendships with those guys because you see them so often. There's a balance between being a friend or just a guy that you know. It can be tough to hit that balance." Brian Vickers , Sprint Cup Driver, ( @BrianLVickers ) "It goes both ways. You have this common interest and respect for each other because of what you do. They are also your competitors. You race with them each week and things happen. You get in accidents, you get mad at each other, so friendships come and go. The respect is probably what keeps friendships together." Kevin Swindell, Nationwide driver, ( @KevinSwindell ) "It can be. A lot of guys go off the old adage, 'If you want friends at the race track, bring them with you.' As you get older, your mindset tends to change. You forgive a little quicker and get to thinking that not everyone is out to get you." Elliott Sadler, Nationwide driver, ( @Elliott_Sadler ) "No, not at all. I've got a lot of friends in this sport. It's almost like a traveling family. You're with drivers more than you're with your own family. You might have an issue with somebody, but you're such close friends, you talk it out and work through it." Have you ever been surprised by how a driver you thought was a friend talked about you or raced you on the track? DILLON: "Yes, at certain times, I've gone, 'Wow, I didn't think he'd say something like that.' Or other drivers have done things after the race that left me saying, 'I don't know that guy.' But you always get over it because there are times when all of us act out of character." VICKERS : "For me, what happens on the track is on the track. I may be mad or disappointed about how someone handled a situation, but that's purely for how they handled things on the track. I wouldn't let it change how I felt about them as a friend." SWINDELL: "There's always something, but you've got to stop and ask yourself, 'Would I have done the same thing to them?' If that's the case, you've got to calm down and let it slide." SADLER: "You run into that all the time, but it’s in the heat of the moment. I'd say 75 to 80 percent of the guys out here are great guys who would do anything in the world for you. But you've got to go out there and race hard and know where to draw the line." Have you ever gotten to know a driver for the first time and come away thinking, "That guy is cooler than I thought?" DILLON: "First impressions are big with me. I feel like I know where someone stands pretty early on when I meet them. I have talked to some guys and come away thinking, 'Man, that's a good guy.' I have also thought, 'Man, that guy is a loser,' and then spent 30 minutes with them and come away thinking totally different of them. I've learned that you've got to be open-minded with everybody. You've got to give everyone a chance." VICKERS : "You have perceptions of people and sometimes that changes when you get to know them. With people in the public eye, you're almost forced to make a judgment of them before you really know them based on what you’ve seen of them. Then you meet them and maybe get a different impression." SWINDELL: "Sure. There are always people that have a reputation one way or the other, and you come away surprised that they are different than you thought." SADLER: "I've had that happen a couple of times, and I've talked to drivers I didn't really know and felt like, 'That guy is going to have a tough time.' " SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Four drivers take part in test at Auto Club Speedway RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams are taking part in a 2015 Goodyear Tire test at Auto Club Speedway that started Tuesday and continued Wednesday. Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Brian Vickers (No. 55 Toyota) and Martin Truex Jr . (No. 78 Chevrolet) were the drivers that piloted setups at the 2-mile track in California. The test was an opportunity to get ahead of 2015 changes. For Vickers , it also offered a chance to drive the new 2015 Toyota Camry that was unveiled at Charlotte earlier this month . "It was good to get some time behind the wheel of the 2015 Camry," Vickers said in a team release. "We brought a lot of engineers from MWR and Toyota Racing Development to Fontana to work on the car. Testing is where we learn what the Goodyear tires, our car and engine like and don't like. I enjoy the science behind testing. The more you learn in testing the better you will be in the race. With the reduction in testing planned for next season, days like this are very valuable. So far I love what I see with the new Camry. It looks good and drives good." As part of the 2015 rules package for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, there is a ban on private testing by teams. Organizations will only be able to participate in NASCAR/Goodyear tests. As for how the test went, Auto Club Speedway posted a video of Vickers out on the track on Tuesday. You can watch it below. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Changes include horsepower reduction, ban on team-faciliated testing Photo courtesy of Hendrick Motorsports MORE: Official NASCAR release " Horsepower reduction highlights changes " Fast facts RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize CONCORD, N.C. – It's the time of year when Jimmie Johnson typically is running roughshod over the competition, so it really wasn't surprising to find the Hendrick Motorsports driver guiding a World War II tank over two automobiles in the infield at Charlotte Motor Speedway Tuesday afternoon. The event was to promote next month's Bank of America 500 (October 11, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC) at CMS, and a special "Let the Troops Race" program. Johnson's appearance took place shortly before NASCAR officials unveiled the sanctioning body's 2015 rules package, which includes among other things a reduction in horsepower and down force as well as a ban on team-faciliated private testing. As a six-time Sprint Cup champion, Johnson was the perfect sounding board to ask about the changes. "In one respect it's great," Johnson said of the testing ban. "We don't have to spend more time away from home (to) go testing. As long as you're in great shape, you're going to be happy with that rule." But, he added, HMS, which includes drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne as well as Johnson, has been one to utilize other facilities often in an attempt to remain competitive. Now, he said, such on-track information will have to be obtained at the track leading into a race weekend. "We've been one that has used Nashville and a lot of other tracks to advance our cars," he said. "We’re going to have to do it the old fashioned way, at the track. Use practice sessions as test sessions and also fall back on our tools and instruments that we have in-house at Hendrick Motorsports." Others also chimed in Tuesday once the '15 rules were announced. Michael Waltrip Racing 's Brian Vickers was quoted in his team's weekly pre-race release as saying less down force, which will be obtained in part by a reduction in the height of the rear spoiler on the car, "should make the driver a greater part of the success equation." "There is a ton to absorb with the announcement today, but I think all of the changes are in the right direction," Vickers said. "The testing ban is the right decision. It saves car owners some money and increases the quality of life for all the crew that don't get to spend a lot of time with their family." Doug Yates, CEO of Roush Yates Engines, said changes to the motors would mean "a lot of work ahead." To drop horsepower from its current 850 range to the NASCAR target of 725, the use of tapered spacers such as those currently found in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series will be implemented. For Daytona and Talladega, restrictor plates will continue to be used to control speeds. "The engine configuration as we know it is going to change considerably and what that means is a different camshaft," Yates said. "They're going from flat tappet to roller lifter, which is a step in the right direction for longevity, but as far as the cam design, the cylinder head, intake manifold and exhaust system – all of those things that are related to air-flow – is going to have to be developed and tested over the winter to have a package that's ready to go race next March in Atlanta. "At the same time, they're reducing the horsepower target 125 and they’re also reducing the RPM from 9,500 today to 9,000 RPM going forward, so there are a lot of changes and a lot of work ahead." Back at CMS, Johnson was asked about constant changes to rules and if perhaps NASCAR should leave well enough alone for now. "It's debatable," he said. "I was in a great conversation with (Clint) Bowyer … he brought up a good point. Every time there is change, there is more competition. When the rules sit still for a long period of time, (competition on the track) kind of falls into a follow-the-leader type of event. With more change, there will be that race again to find out who can figure out the mousetrap first. "I'm not against that. And at the end of the day, if the cars really have a lot of give-up in them and they are abusing tires and wearing tires out, (then) that's going to create the best racing for us.” MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Brian Vickers cut down a left front tire early in practice forcing him to a backup car in Richmond.
Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne play a game of bumper tag with Vickers ultimately sending Kahne into the wall and almost taking out Chase driver Brad Keselowski.
Vickers is currently 16th in the Sprint Cup Series driver standings
Brian Vickers celebrates his first win with MWR and at NHMS.