NASCAR Auto Club Speedway Notes: Blood Clots Put Brian Vickers On Sidelines Again

(NASCAR Wire Service)

By Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Brian Vickers Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Brian Vickers (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

FONTANA, Calif.—A phone call to Michael Waltrip Racing executive vice president Ty Norris brought news that was as unwelcome as it was unexpected—that beleaguered driver Brian Vickers was sidelined by blood clots for the third time in his career.

“I just received a phone call about one o’clock in the morning (Friday),” Norris said, “and he’s obviously disappointed in the result, but Brian has a lot of things in perspective, and the thing in perspective is that he was aware of the issue, thought he knew what it was, it was confirmed, and he’s getting the right treatment and, as a human being, he’ll be fine moving forward, and that’s the most important thing.”

Brett Moffitt has replaced Vickers in the No. 55 MWR Toyota for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX), as he did three weeks ago in Atlanta when Vickers missed the first two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races of the season while recovering from offseason heart surgery.

Vickers has been placed on blood thinners to combat the clots and is precluded from racing while on that medication. The length of his absence from racing is indeterminate.

“For the foreseeable future Brett is definitely our guy,” team owner Michael Waltrip said. “This just happened, so Rob (Kaufmann, team co-owner) is in England, and Ty and I have been in constant contact with Rob, and we’re going to get through this weekend and we’ll have a plan next week to share with everyone.”

Vickers was first diagnosed with blood clots in his legs and lungs in May of 2010 and missed the final 25 races of the season. In 2013, a recurrence of the issue caused him to miss the last five races of the year.

After the 2014 season, Vickers underwent surgery to seal a hole between the two upper chambers of his heart and was cleared to race for the first time at Las Vegas this year. He finished 15th there and 41st last week at Phoenix, after tangling with the No. 48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson early in the race.

Moffitt, who finished eighth at Atlanta while subbing for Vickers, will be making his 11th Sprint Cup start this week. When Vickers returned to action at Las Vegas, Moffitt drove the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford for two races and was planning to be in that seat at Fontana before Vickers’ symptoms resurfaced.


Moffitt’s move to the No. 55 MWR Camry opened the seat of the No. 34 Front Row Ford, and Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Chris Buescher was the choice to fill it.

Buescher got a Friday morning phone call from Roush Fenway general manager Robbie Reiser, telling him he was about to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut.

“I was actually getting breakfast over by the hotel, and Robbie Reiser called me,” Buescher said Friday at Auto Club Speedway. “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’m excited to get the opportunity, so I appreciate that very much, but we’re going to have to be on our toes this weekend.”

For Buescher’s sake, it’s a good thing the driver of the No. 60 RFR XFINITY Series Ford learned to keep his phone fully charged. Four years ago, Reiser couldn’t get through to the driver when he was looking for a sub for ailing Trevor Bayne.

“I learned that the hard way when I got the call from Robbie in 2011 when I was subbing in for Trevor,” Buescher said. “My phone was dead that morning, and he called and called and called, and it was a little while before I could actually get the phone charged and get back to him, and it was pure panic then.

“At least with this one I answered the first time.”


Hard contact with the Turn 4 wall during Friday’s opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice forced Carl Edwards’ No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team to roll out a backup car for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

“We went from a 12-inch to a six-inch sub pretty quick,” Edwards said in a glib reference to primary sponsor Subway. “I tried to save it – I got a little bit loose off (the corner) – and I tried to save it and that was a mistake. I had a ton of throttle and the lap was going really well coming off Turn 4. It got a little bit loose and I was like, ‘Man, I’m not going to hit the fence,’ and I thought, ‘I should lock it down.’

“Right there I was thinking ‘Lock it down,’ and I thought, ‘Nah, I’ll save it,’ and that was not the right decision. Anyway, the guys have a lot of work in front of them. I hate to do that. I think we were having a pretty good lap there.”

Notes: Greg Biffle’s No. 16 Ford slapped the Turn 4 wall early in the opening practice, but his team was able to repair the primary car and get it back on the track during the session. … NASCAR confiscated a truck arm (rear suspension part) from the No. 33 Chevrolet driven by Brian Scott and owned by Joe Falk. The sanctioning body will take the part to its research-and-development center in Concord, North Carolina, for further evaluation.

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  1. Poor guy.

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