Auto racing: Vickers to miss remainder of the season
AP Auto Racing Writer
CONCORD, N.C. — Brian Vickers will miss the remainder of the NASCAR season because of blood clots in his lungs and left leg.
Vickers was hospitalized two nights last week after feeling chest pains during a visit to Washington, D.C. Testing revealed the clots, and Vickers missed last weekend's race at Dover.
Vickers returned to North Carolina following his release from the hospital Friday night, but said a recurrence of chest pains sent him back to the hospital the next day. He spent another two nights hospitalized, and the decision to sit out the remainder of the season to receive treatment was made shortly after.
"This is what I love to do, this is my life," Vickers said Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he made his first public appearance since his ordeal began last Wednesday. "This is what I love to do, and I fully intend on doing it again."
The 26-year-old Vickers is being treated with blood thinners, and his physician could not clear him to race because of the dangers of the driver being injured in a crash.
"It is not advisable for him to race while he's on blood thinners," said Dr. Steven Limentani of Carolina Hematology Oncology.
Vickers, seated between Limentani and Red Bull Racing general manager Jay Frye, then quickly lightened the mood.
"I can actually race on blood thinners, I just can't crash," he smiled. "So I said 'OK, what if I don't crash?' "
Limentani said the clots in Vickers' lungs were "relatively small," but giving the driver pains similar to being punched in the ribs every time he took a breath.
Vickers is in his seventh full season in the Sprint Cup Series and coming off his first appearance in the Chase for the championship. He was replaced in the No. 83 Toyota last weekend by Casey Mears, who will also drive the car in Saturday night's All-Star Race.
Frye said the team was still deciding how it will proceed the rest of the season, but indicated Mears could stay in the seat with possible consideration to using a road course specialist at those two races.
Vickers vowed to be back in the car in 2011.
"I do expect to be back in the car next season, and to win the Daytona 500," he said.