Brian Vickers has been ruled out of the start of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season after undergoing heart surgery.
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver missed much of the 2010 season while recovering from blood clots and surgery to repair a hole in his atria, and was sidelined again from the final few races in 2013 when another blood clot was detected in his calf.
Vickers said that the need for the latest round of treatment only became apparent over the past few days.
“My previous experiences have given me a very keen understanding of my body,” he said. “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.
“On 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.”
Vickers has achieved eight top-five finishes, including a win at New Hampshire last year, since joining MWR on what was initially a part-time deal in 2012. The team issued a statement expressing its support for the 31-year-old, but said that it has not yet decided upon a replacement driver for its 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 MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman. “As a race team, MWR has plenty to consider and we will confer with our partners. As this is fresh news, we will adjust our future plans as more information becomes available.”