Chris Buescher will pilot the No. 34 for the second straight week Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Entry list for Martinsville Three interim drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will reprise their roles for the second straight race this weekend at Martinsville Speedway based on the entry list for the STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Brett Moffitt will drive the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota in place of Brian Vickers , who will miss the next three months of competition after doctors discovered a recurrence of blood clots last week. Vickers has resumed taking blood-thinning medication, which precludes him from racing. Moffitt , a developmental driver for MWR, is scheduled to make his 12th Sprint Cup start and his first in the premier series at Martinsville in Sunday's STP 500 . He finished 22nd Sunday at Auto Club Speedway . Chris Buescher , a NASCAR XFINITY Series regular, will return to the Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford for the second straight week. Buescher finished 20th in his Sprint Cup debut Sunday at Auto Club as a last-minute fill-in when Moffitt was named as Vickers' replacement. Front Row later confirmed Buescher's return to the No. 34 on Twitter. . @Chris_Buescher will return to the No. 34 for @MartinsvilleSwy weekend. pic.twitter.com/0viNgEUyTx — FrontRow Motorsports (@FrontRowNASCAR) March 23, 2015 Buescher ranks second in XFINITY Series standings, just five points behind series leader Ty Dillon . David Ragan will continue as interim driver of Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 18 Toyota in place of the injured Kyle Busch , who suffered fractures of both legs in last month's XFINITY opener at Daytona International Speedway . With Busch out indefinitely, Ragan is scheduled to pilot the JGR No. 18 for the next several weeks before returning to his regular ride in the Front Row No. 34. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Brett Moffitt talks about his 8th place finish last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway while filling in for Brian Vickers and what he expects this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Front Row Racing No.34 Ford.
22-year-old scored eighth-place result at Atlanta subbing for Vickers Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Brett Moffitt 's first start of the 2015 season left quite the impression, as the 22-year-old scored an eighth-place finish in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Unfortunately for the Grimes, Iowa, native, start No. 2 has yet to be determined. Moffitt , a development driver with Michael Waltrip Racing , filled in for Brian Vickers in the organization’s No. 55 Toyota at AMS. It was his eighth career start in the series. Owner/driver Michael Waltrip finished 26th in a fill-in role for Vickers in the season-opening Daytona 500 . Vickers, sidelined for the first two races due to health issues, returns to the seat this weekend when the series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Kobalt 400 on March 8 (FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET) "I wish I was in it for the next 30-some weeks," Moffitt said following his top-10 finish at AMS, "but I'm sure something will come about; an opportunity will open up, so we'll see." In a statement Monday, MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman said MWR officials are "enthusiastic about ( Moffitt's ) potential." " Brett is under a multi-year agreement with Michael Waltrip Racing ," Kauffman said. "MWR would love to get back to a three-car team and grow with him into the future. Before this past weekend we stated that we felt his name should be mentioned among the impressive crop of young drivers coming into the sport, and the Atlanta result validated that claim." Moffitt , a member of the original NASCAR Next class in 2011, competed regularly in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East from 2009 through '13, scoring nine wins and finishing inside the top five in more than half his starts (33 in 61 races). He has a handful of starts in ARCA, NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series. Earlier this year, Moffitt said he was pleased with his association with MWR and thankful for the opportunities the organization had afforded him thus far. "But at the same time, I need to be in a race car more often and they've been willing to work with me on that, and they said 'Hey, if you find an opportunity, we're not going to hold you back from it,' " he said. A lack of sponsorship forced MWR to contract from three Sprint Cup teams to two after the 2013 season. Should expansion be on the horizon, Moffitt could find himself on the short list of potential driver candidates. Another option, more likely given the time frame, would be to secure a ride for Moffitt through another Toyota-affiliated organization. "While we work toward a fully supported in-house program, it is MWR's desire that Brett get more quality opportunities in either of NASCAR's top divisions and we will work diligently to make that happen," Kauffman said. Dave Wilson, president and general manager, Toyota Racing Development, USA, said that Moffitt is "in our … driver development program and we have been working with him in a development capacity over the past couple of years. "Given the right opportunity we would love to see him in a Toyota down the road." Moffitt's Atlanta effort reinforced the group's belief in the talented youngster. It also reinforced his belief in himself. Although nearly two laps down to the leader at one point, a timely caution in the latter stages of Sunday's race allowed Moffitt and the No. 55 team to pit under yellow and gain track position. The team then opted to stay out under a subsequent yellow, and Moffitt found himself restarting third. And while he spun his tires on the restart, losing several spots, he was able to hold off Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman in the closing laps and hold on to eighth place. "I was tearing up out there; this is the biggest accomplishment I could have ever done," an emotional Moffitt said afterward. "… These guys kept fighting. … I spun the tires there, luckily we were able to get 'em back on the last restart." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Michael Waltrip Racing turns to 22-year-old in relief role CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brett Moffitt , who made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in 2014, will drive the No. 55 Aaron's Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1 as Brian Vickers recuperates from offseason heart surgery. Owner Michael Waltrip made the announcement Tuesday during his team's stop on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "He was the driver that everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing wanted to be in that car at Atlanta," Waltrip said. "They believe in him." Moffitt said he learned of his appointment to the No. 55 Toyota two weeks ago, making it exceedingly difficult to keep his fill-in role a secret. "It was a stressful wait to find out that I was going to be in the car, that's for sure," Moffitt said. "I obviously wanted this opportunity really bad and I'm thankful for it." In seven Sprint Cup starts last season, the best start and finish for the 22-year-old native of Grimes, Iowa and former NASCAR Next driver and K&N Pro Series East race winner came in his debut on June 1 at Dover International Speedway when he began the race in 18th and finished 22nd. Though he said he has been enjoying his time as a developmental driver in the MWR system, Moffitt said he was continuing to explore options -- in any of NASCAR's three national series -- that would allow him to race on a more consistent basis. "I'm very happy with MWR. They're very supportive of me -- have been since 2011," Moffitt said. "They gave me the first opportunity to test a Cup car, they gave me the first opportunity to race one, so they've been huge supporters of my career and I wouldn't be where I am without them, that's for sure. But at the same time, I need to be in a race car more often and they've been willing to work with me on that, and they said hey, if you find an opportunity, we're not going to hold you back from it." Waltrip agreed: "We'll let Brett do anything he wants to do in order to get laps so that he can continue to mature as a race car driver. We believe in Brett , he's our guy, but if we can loan him out and he can race somewhere else that would make me happy." Waltrip will drive the No. 55 Toyota in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 22 (1 p.m. ET, FOX) as he attempts to win his third Great American Race. Despite missing the first two races of the season, Vickers received NASCAR's blessing to run for the Sprint Cup Series championship provided he meets all other requirements for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. He will return to his ride at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the third race of the year on March 8. Last month, doctors discovered Vickers' body rejected a patch that was placed over a hole in his heart. They alleviated the problem and gave him clearance to race just three months after the corrective heart surgery. "They took my heart out and replaced it with a lion heart," Vickers joked on Tuesday. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver to be on blood thinners for next three months Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Vickers sidelined with recurrence of blood clots FONTANA, Calif. -- Brian Vickers , driver of the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, addressed the media on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway for the first time since team owner Michael Waltrip announced Friday that Vickers will not race in the Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). Vickers explained that he will have to be on blood thinners for three months because of recurring blood clots that were discovered on his lungs in a CT scan on Thursday. The driver said he cannot drive while he's on blood thinners. "I have not been on a blood thinner since the end of 2013," Vickers said in a press conference on Sunday. While Vickers gave no specific timetable for his return, he said he remains hopeful about resuming his racing career and is far from crossing that bridge. Vickers has been dealing with frequent blood clots in his leg and lungs that caused him to miss the first two races of the year while recovering from heart surgery he had in December. NASCAR kept Vickers Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup -eligible. This is the fourth time since 2010 that Vickers has missed had to sit out due to medical reasons. "I've been told a thousand times I'll never race again," Vickers said. "And I've raced the last two weeks." In the only two races that Vickers participated in this season (Las Vegas, Phoenix) he finished 15th and 41st, respectively. Waltrip explained on Friday when the news was announced that he had spent time with Vickers in New Orleans recently and that when he last saw his driver, there was no indication that Vickers was experiencing health issues. It wasn't until 1 a.m. local time on Friday that the MWR team received a call from Vickers detailing his situation. Filling in for Vickers in the No. 55 will be 22-year-old Brett Moffitt . This will be Moffitt's first time ever racing on the 2-mile speedway in California. Moffitt had been piloting the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford for David Ragan as he filled in for injured No. 18 Kyle Busch . NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Chris Buescher will be behind the wheel of the No. 34 Sprint Cup car. When asked if the North Carolina native is worried that his medical condition could push him into an early retirement he responded with confidence. "Am I worried? Yeah, of course," Vickers said. "Have I given up hope? No. "Whatever happens next I couldn't have been happier to be in that car for the last two weeks," Vickers said. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Brett Moffitt will pilot No. 55 Toyota at Auto Club FONTANA, Calif. -- Looking understandably forlorn, Michael Waltrip explained Friday morning that his driver Brian Vickers will be out of the Michael Waltrip Racing team's No. 55 Toyota this weekend at Auto Club Speedway after experiencing "a reoccurrence of blood clots" and said he did not have a timetable for Vickers return. Brett Moffitt , 22, will steer the car this weekend -- his first time ever turning at lap at the 2-mile speedway -- while Vickers begins blood-thinning medication which prevents him from racing. "First and foremost our thoughts are with Brian and his family,'' Waltrip said. "He isn't just our race car driver, he is our friend and we know the NASCAR community will continue to rally around Brian. Waltrip said he spent time with Vickers in New Orleans this week before they all travelled to California in preparation for Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). The team received a call at 1 a.m. local time Friday from Vickers relaying the situation, and he is still in California under the care of doctors. Waltrip said that when he last saw his driver, there was no indication there was a problem. "Obviously he was disappointed in the results, but Brian has a lot of things in perspective,'' Ty Norris, executive vice president of business development and general manager of Michael Waltrip Racing , said. "He was aware of the issue, thought he knew what it was and it was confirmed." Waltrip reminded that "the situation is very fluid and it's new information," noting that no plans have been made beyond this weekend. He did say, however, that Moffitt , who finished eighth filling in for Vickers at Atlanta, would be the go-to driver as a replacement. "For the foreseeable future, Brett's definitely our guy,'' Waltrip said. Vickers missed the first two races of the year while recovering from heart surgery in December and NASCAR kept him Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup -eligible. Waltrip said he has not spoken with NASCAR yet to see how this setback affects his eligibility for NASCAR's 10-race, season-ending playoff. It's the fourth time Vickers has had to take time off for medical issues since 2010. "Thankfully because I recognized the signs and symptoms the doctors caught this early and I'm going to be OK,'' Vickers said in a team statement. "I had finished my treatment for the clot I had in my leg back in 2013 and I haven't needed to be on a blood thinner for a clot in my leg or lung since. "I'm going to follow doctor's orders and do everything I need to do to get well.'' Ironically, Vickers was supposed to be making appearances on behalf of sponsor Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its blood-thinning drug Xarelto at the track marking what is "Blood Clot Awareness Month," including a press conference at Auto Club Speedway . "I'm disappointed I can't be there, but if there is a silver lining in all this, hopefully what's happened to me will help raise awareness on this important health issue,'' he said. Vickers took to Facebook on Friday afternoon to thank his fans for their support. Post by Brian Vickers . Like other Sprint Cup Series competitors, points leader Kevin Harvick said he really felt for Vickers. "I feel bad for Brian because he does have that drive and determination to be in the car, and he's already overcome so much. It's just really really unfortunate." The situation especially hits home for Waltrip, whose mother suffered a stroke after a blood clot and has required round-the-clock care ever since. "When I look at my mom, I'm reminded spreading the word [about blood clots] is so important,'' Waltrip said. "Obviously this is a setback for our team and Brian, but this morning, we're just glad Brian's okay." Moffitt had been driving the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford. The team announced that XFINITY Series Roush Fenway Racing driver Chris Buescher would take over the ride this weekend. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get up to speed before Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m., FOX) Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live What: 19th Annual Auto Club 400 . Where: Auto Club Speedway , Fontana, California When: Sunday, March 22; 3:30 pm ET. TV/Radio: FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Distance: 200 laps; 400 miles Pit road speed: 55 mph Caution car speed: 65 mph Fuel window: 40 laps On the front row " Full starting lineup 1. Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (185.142 mph) 2. Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (185.047 mph) Fast fact: Jimmie Johnson (2008) is the only driver to win this race from the pole. Failed to qualify Reed Sorenson , RAB Racing No. 29 Toyota; Travis Kvapil Team Xtreme No. 44 Chevrolet Fastest in practice First practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing , No. 41 Chevrolet (186.741 mph) " Full results Second practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing , No. 41 Chevrolet (187.115 mph) " Full results Final practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing , No. 41 Chevrolet (184.971 mph) " Full results Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and David Ragan (filling in for the injured Kyle Busch ) were also consistently fast in practice. Last year's winner: Kyle Busch won last year's race at Fontana and the race in 2013 but won't be here to defend the title as he remains at home in North Carolina recovering from a broken leg and foot -- injuries sustained in an accident during the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona. On the line: Harvick has finished first or second in the last seven Sprint Cup races dating back to the end of the 2014 season -- a mark last accomplished by Richard Petty 40 years ago. Harvick holds a two-race winning streak entering Sunday's race and a win would give him a sweep of NASCAR's West Coast swing. History lesson: Six-time champ Jimmie Johnson has a series-best five wins at his "home track." The El Cajon, California native is far and away the top-rated driver here. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth (3), Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon (3) and Stewart-Haas Racing 's Tony Stewart are the only other drivers in Sunday's field with multiple wins at Auto Club Speedway . Johnson, Kenseth and Carl Edwards are the only drivers to have made multiple starts here and have top-10 average finishes. Super Subs: Three drivers are substituting for others this weekend. Brett Moffitt , 22, is driving the No. 55 Toyota for regular driver Brian Vickers who is sidelined while taking blood-thinning medication to treat a reoccurrence of blood clots. It's Moffitt's fourth Cup start this year and his second with Michael Waltrip Racing this season. His last start with MWR was an eighth-place finish at Atlanta three weeks ago. David Ragan is driving the defending race-winning No. 18 Toyota car for the injured Busch. XFINITY Series regular Chris Buescher is making his Cup debut in the No. 34 Ford that Moffitt has driven the last two weeks. Redemption: Denny Hamlin is one driver with extra motivation to win here. He was badly injured in an accident while challenging for the lead in the final lap of the 2013 race. Last year, he had to pull out of the race only minutes before the green flag after a piece of metal was embedded in his eye. Hamlin is tied with a series-best three pole positions at Fontana including three straight front row starts from 2011 to 13, yet has only one top-five in 13 starts here to show for it. California Dreamin': There are 10 drivers in Sunday's field from California, the largest representation of any state and a mark of NASCAR's exposure West. The reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Harvick (Bakersfield), along with six-time champ Johnson (El Cajon) and four-time champ Gordon (Vallejo) are among those hailing from the Golden State. Those three drivers have nine wins among them at Auto Club Speedway and California drivers have the most of any state. They said it: "We love coming out here. The weather is great. I was watching clips from this race the last time we were here where we were five-wide through the corners. You can't make that kind of racing up. That is incredible. I think that everybody needs to recognize just how good of a race track this is and also the market and how important it is to NASCAR and its growth." -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Auto Club Speedway based on past 10 years: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (120.1) Matt Kenseth , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (106.2) Tony Stewart , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet (100.7) Former Auto Club Speedway winners in the field Jimmie Johnson (5); Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth (3); Tony Stewart (2); Kevin Harvick , Carl Edwards , Kurt Busch , Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle (1) MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
XFINITY Series regular to drive No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Chris Buescher will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend in Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). The NASCAR XFINITY Series regular for Roush Fenway Racing will pilot the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports at Auto Club Speedway . The team announced the news on its Twitter account. . @Chris_Buescher will make his first Sprint Cup start for Front Row Motorsports in the No 34 this weekend. pic.twitter.com/l5iQXQsa4K — FrontRow Motorsports (@FrontRowNASCAR) March 20, 2015 Buescher will replace Brett Moffitt , who shifted over to the No. 55 Toyota for Brian Vickers . Moffitt , a Michael Waltrip Racing development driver, had made starts in the past two races in the No. 34 Ford. Vickers is out for the Auto Club 400 due to a recurrence of blood clots. "We have no Cup starts so this will be the first," Buescher said in a Ford release. "I've run a lot of Cup test sessions and throughout the years I've done a lot at Roush Fenway on the Cup side, but this will be the first race. The circumstances that bring it about are not ideal. We wish Brian Vickers the best and want to try to do the best we can for Front Row Motorsports now at this point." Getting Buescher in the No. 34 Ford all came together very quickly. "I was actually getting breakfast over by the hotel and Robbie Reiser called me," Buescher said. "It's kind of similar to the way my first XFINITY race went down. I was getting ready for an ARCA race and got the call and was rushed to Richmond, so it's been wild. I'm happy to help out Front Row and help out another Ford team. We're trying to all work the best we can to make this happen as smoothly as possible. It's going to be a wild weekend between the two schedules. I's excited to get the opportunity, so I appreciate that very much, but we're gonna have to be on our toes this weekend." Buescher is currently second in the XFINITY Series point standings and has two top-five finishes in four races. The 22-year-old Texas native won at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last summer for his first NASCAR national series win. "We still have to put our focus on the XFINITY side," Buescher said. "We're in contention to win a championship and we need to make sure that our effort is on that area, but, at the same time, we're more than happy to help out on the Cup side and try to help these guys have a good, solid run and stay up there in points." David Ragan , who has driven the No. 34 Ford for the past three seasons, currently is filling in for Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing . Ragan delivered Front Row Motorsports its first win in 2013 at Talladega Superspeedway . In addition to the No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports fields two other Sprint Cup entries, the No. 35 driven by Cole Whitt and the No. 38 driven by David Gilliland . MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Interim driver coming off career-best Cup finish at Atlanta
Brett Moffitt goes for a spin during qualifying forcing him to a back-up truck for the UNOH 225.