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
• 2014 Season In Review Also Features Year In Photos, Video Highlights Package FORT WORTH, Texas (December 16, 2014) - The year at Texas Motor Speedway opened with pyrotechnics celebrating the unveiling of the world's largest, high-definition LED video board in March and culminated in November with additional fireworks courtesy of the post-race melee involving combatants Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 Eliminator 8 Chase race. There also was plenty of action and excitement in between as Texas Motor Speedway played host to its annual Duck Commander 500 NASCAR doubleheader in April, Firestone 600 INDYCAR/NASCAR twin bill in June and played host to its inaugural Red Bull Air Race World Championship event in September. The Texas Motor Speedway 2014 Season In Review recaps those major event weekends, in addition to the momentous "Big Hoss TV" unveiling, while the accompanying Texas Motor Speedway Year in Photos captures all those key moments in addition to other noteworthy speedway-related events throughout the year. The Texas Motor Speedway Year in Photos features 90 images - primarily from the speedway's official photo agency Getty Images - that were chosen for their significance and/or artistic value and are presented in chronological order. A three-minute video recap of the top on-track moments, including the AAA Texas 500 post-race skirmish, also is available in HD by clicking here. All photos and video are free for media outlets to utilize, especially for their year-end, wrap-ups and can be previewed by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com or downloaded by visiting www.image.net/tmsinreview2014 . Let's take a look back: "Big Hoss TV" Unveiling / Wednesday, March 19 The Skinny: The world's largest, high-definition LED video board is unveiled amid fanfare and will be one of the most impactful fan enhancements in the history of Texas Motor Speedway and the world of motorsports. The Recap: Texas Motor Speedway unveiled the world's largest, high-definition LED video board in grand fashion as the evening featured fireworks, motorsports stars, reality television celebrities, dignitaries and the showing of an episode from A&E's hit reality show "Duck Dynasty" for more than 8,000 fans situated in the infield of the world-class sports facility. The official debut of the Panasonic-built "Big Hoss TV" was part of a star-studded evening that included appearances by Duck Commander CEO and "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson and his wife, Korie, along with the heralded racing duo of NASCAR's Kyle Busch and INDYCAR's Helio Castroneves. Also in attendance were dignitaries such as NASCAR President Mike Helton, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, Panasonic Eco Solutions North America Vice President Richard Ballard, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith, SMI President and COO Marcus Smith and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. Positioned in the middle of the backstretch and stretching 218 feet wide by 94.6 feet tall, "Big Hoss TV" features 20,633.64 square feet of HD LED imagery that contains 281 trillion colors. The video board, constructed in just four months, surpassed fellow Speedway Motorsports, Inc. facility Charlotte Motor Speedway (16,000 square feet) as the Guinness World Record holder for the world's largest HD LED video board. The size of "Big Hoss TV" is staggering as it is 79 percent larger than the video board at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, which is 11,520 square feet. "It is the ultimate fan amenity," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. "To have the biggest one in the world, that's just one of those 'Everything is Bigger in Texas' stories that we are really proud to be a part of." NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 / Monday, April 7 The Skinny: Rain forces a Monday matinee for only the third time in speedway history and Joey Logano wins the Duck Commander 500 for an automatic berth in the reformatted Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The Recap: With Duck Commander on board as the title sponsor and the "Duck Dynasty" stars on hand en masse, the weather was more conducive for duck hunting that NASCAR racing. The Duck Commander 500 , moved from its Saturday night slot to Sunday afternoon to avoid a conflict with the NCAA Final Four men's college basketball tourney being in Arlington, was washed out due to continual rain showers and rescheduled for a Monday matinee. It was just the third time in Texas Motor Speedway 's 18-year history that a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was run on Monday due to inclement weather, the most recent coming in 2010 when both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races were run on the same day. Penske Racing's Joey Logano punched his ticket for a berth in the restructured Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format after surviving a green/white-checkered finish to win the Duck Commander 500 . Logano was cruising to victory with a two-second lead over teammate Brad Keselowski with just over one lap remaining in the scheduled 334-lap event, but a caution for debris forced a two-lap overtime shootout. Logano restarted third after pitting for four tires while Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers opted for two tires and restarted first and second, respectively. Gordon held off Logano on the first lap, but Logano got a strong run inside on the frontstretch and was able to overtake him in Turn 1 and pull away to a 0.476 of a second margin of victory in the race that was extended to 340 laps. The victory was Logano's first since August of 2013 at Michigan and the fourth of his career. It also was his first Sprint Cup win at Texas Motor Speedway , which was highlighted by him becoming the youngest Cup winner in TMS history at 23 years, 10 months and 14 days. NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 / Friday, April 4 The Skinny: Rookie Chase Elliott , the 18-year-old son of NASCAR great Bill Elliott , lands his first career Nationwide Series victory in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 to become the second-youngest winner in series history. The Recap: Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 provided a historic milestone for a second-generation NASCAR driver and a glimpse into the talent that would flourish and lead to a series championship. Rookie Chase Elliott , the 18-year-old high school senior and son of NASCAR great Bill Elliott , needed just six starts in the Nationwide Series for his first career win that came in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 . Elliott made a bold move on the high side of Kevin Harvick in the elbow of the frontstretch to take the lead on Lap 185 and then held on for a 2.251-second victory over Kyle Busch in the 200-lap event. Elliott became the second-youngest winner in series history at 18 years, 4 months and 8 days. Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 / Saturday, June 7 The Skinny: Will Power's late pit lane penalty opens the door for Ed Carpenter to capture the Firestone 600 and become the first American winner at TMS since Sam Hornish Jr . in 2007. The Recap: The annual INDYCAR/NASCAR summer doubleheader yielded two first-time Texas Motor Speedway winners as Matt Crafton won the Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino 350 and Ed Carpenter was victorious in the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600. Carpenter took advantage of a strong second-half race performance and a critical late pit lane penalty by Will Power to record his first series victory since 2012 in the Firestone 600. The victory was the third of Carpenter's career and his first since winning the 2012 season finale at Fontana. In his previous 12 starts at Texas Motor Speedway , he had just one top-five finish and led one lap (2009) before breaking through to become the first American to win at Texas since Sam Hornish Jr . in 2007. Carpenter led 66 of the final 67 laps of the 248-lap event and avoided a potential shootout for the win with Power, who was running second when he was caught speeding in pit lane on his final green-flag pit stop. With 36 to go, Carpenter and Power pitted together and came out 1-2, but Power received a drive-thru penalty for speeding and fell a lap down. Carpenter suddenly had a nine-plus second cushion over second-place Tony Kanaan and was coasting to victory with an 18.5-second lead before a final caution came out with seven laps remaining. The race became a two-lap shootout and Carpenter was able to stave off Juan Pablo Montoya and the hard-charging Power, who moved from sixth to second and finished 0.52 of a second behind Carpenter. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 / Friday, June 6 The Skinny: Defending Camping World Truck Series champ Matt Crafton snaps a 26-race winless streak at TMS with a dominant victory in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 400. The Recap: Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton had it easy compared to Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ed Carpenter in earning his first career win at Texas Motor Speedway . He led a career-best 118 laps en route to the victory in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 that snapped a 26-race winless streak at the speedway. Crafton led 118 of the 167 laps - the most he led in a single race in his 14-year career - and cruised to a 13.302-second victory over runner-up Justin Lofton . It was the fifth win of Crafton's career and second of the season, marking the first time in his career that he had recorded multiple wins in a season. His dominant performance established a track record for largest margin of victory in that series, eclipsing the previous mark of 11.817 seconds set by Dennis Setzer in this event in 2004. Red Bull Air Race World Championship / Saturday, Sept. 6, & Sunday, Sept. 7 The Skinny: Texas Motor Speedway plays host to the first race in the United States since 2010 for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, which returned to competition after a three-year hiatus. The Recap: The Red Bull Air Race World Championship made its return to the United States for the first time since 2010 as Texas Motor Speedway played host to the sixth stage of the eight-event international plane racing series. Before a crowd of more than 20,000 for the first of two U.S. stops, Frenchman Nicolas Ivanoff captured his first victory of the season in the elite Master Class on the challenging, seven air gate, 3.7-mile course that was built in the infield of the motorsports venue. Ivanoff posted an individual two-lap run of 54.118 seconds to defeat Great Britain's Nigel Lamb, Canada's Pete McLeod and Germany's Matthias Dolderer in the Final 4 showdown on Sunday. Ivanoff gave his country a sweep of the weekend competition as fellow Frenchman Mikael Brageot won the Challenger Cup race the day prior. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 / Sunday, Nov. 2 The Skinny: A post-race confrontation between Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski and ensuing melee steals national headlines from six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson winning the AAA Texas 500 for a third year in a row. The Recap : With the remaining eight Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers looking to win the AAA Texas 500 and automatically advance to the championship round, six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson played the role of spoiler as he won the Eliminator 8 race in a dramatic second green/white-checkered overtime finish. Johnson, eliminated from championship contention in the previous round, won the AAA Texas 500 for a record third consecutive year, but it was the post-race scuffle that made national headlines the following day. While Johnson was celebrating his track-record fourth Cup win with burnouts on the frontstretch, chaos ensued on pit lane after an angry Jeff Gordon confronted Brad Keselowski and a fray quickly developed between the Chase contenders. Fellow Chase competitor Kevin Harvick pushed Keselowski while Gordon was jawing with him and the situation quickly escalated as the crews got involved and transformed into a melee. The disagreement stemmed from the first GWC finish, where Gordon took the restart with the lead and Johnson beside him on the front row. Johnson grabbed the lead when a bold move by Keselowski resulted in contact with Gordon, which ultimately led to a flat tire, contact with the wall and a 29th-place finish that would derail his title aspirations. The caution flew for Gordon that set up the second GWC finish, where Keselowski found himself lining up front against the leader Johnson on the restart. Johnson, on the inside, maintained the lead on the restart while Keselowski found himself also trying to fend off a charging Harvick. Harvick got past Keselowski on that lap but didn't have enough time to chase down Johnson, who won by 0.513 of a second for his fourth victory of the season and 70th of his career. Johnson led nine times for 191 laps, but a record 13 cautions continually bunched the field as well as changed race strategies to give a number of drivers a shot at the victory.Johnson, Harvick and Keselowski took the top three positions, respectively, while Kyle Busch , who was looking to sweep all three NASCAR races after truck and Nationwide wins earlier, finished fourth. NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge / Saturday, Nov. 1 The Skinny: Kyle Busch gives Joe Gibbs Racing its 100th career Nationwide Series win and sets his sights on rare NASCAR tripleheader weekend sweep after winning the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge . The Recap: Kyle Busch added to the weekend drama and intrigue when he secured the second leg of a rare NASCAR tripleheader weekend sweep with a win in the Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge . Busch completed the Nationwide Series/ Camping World Truck Series sweep for the second time in his career at Texas Motor Speedway , with the first coming in the fall of 2009. That only left Sunday's AAA Texas 500 as the missing prize for the triple, which had only been accomplished by Busch (Bristol 2010) in the history of NASCAR. Busch extended his record for career Nationwide Series victories at Texas Motor Speedway by adding his seventh with a 1.562-second win over Joey Logano . Busch, who led six times for a race-high 116 laps, and Logano, who led five times for 59 laps, exchanged the lead six times over the final 85 laps in the 200-lap event before Busch took control late. It also was his seventh NNS victory of the season, 70th in his career and a milestone 100th for Joe Gibbs Racing . NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 / Friday, Oct. 31 The Skinny: Kyle Busch wins the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 as Kyle Busch Motorsports ties the Camping World Truck Series record for most victories in a season. The Recap: Kyle Busch , competing in all three NASCAR races during the weekend and chasing a rare sweep, endured a green/white-checkered overtime finish to secure the first leg with a victory in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350. Busch, who led a race-high 80 of 152 laps, was cruising to victory when two late cautions put a scare into his bid to secure his seventh win in just nine NCWTS starts this season. Following the final caution that led to the two-lap shootout, Busch got a strong restart on the outside of leader German Quiroga and took command of the lead coming out of Turn 2. He was pulling away with one lap to go when Quiroga hit the wall in Turn 2 to force the conclusion of the final lap to finish under caution. Busch's series-leading seventh win was his third truck victory at Texas Motor Speedway that pushed his career total in the series to 42. It also was the 12th victory overall for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 20 starts this season, tying the series record for season victories set by Ultra Motorsports in 2001. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
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
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!
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