Vickers Ready to Race

Brian Vickers

Brian Vickers is scheduled to test next week at New Smyrna Speedway, the first time he's been in a car since October. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Brian Vickers has been cleared by doctors to drive after missing the final five races of last season because of a blood clot - the second time since 2010 a blood clot forced him out the car. Vickers must still gain NASCAR clearance to compete.

Vickers missed much of the 2010 season after blood clots were discovered in both lungs and his left leg in May. He was placed on blood thinning medication and didn’t race again that year. He also had heart surgery in July 2010 to repair a small hole.

Vickers’ latest blood clot came after he suffered a mid-foot sprain in a crash at Bristol in August - about a month after he won at New Hampshire. He wore a boot to help the sprain but that caused the blood clot by constricting his right calf. He was put on blood thinning medication, ending his season.

Vickers said doctors have told him that there’s a “low percentage’’ that he’ll get another blood clot if it is “unprovoked.’’ Vickers noted that his most recent blood clot was the result of the boot he wore. Had it not been for that, he likely wouldn’t have suffered a blood clot last year.

Now that he’s cleared, Vickers will test for Michael Waltrip Racing at New Smyrna Speedway next week. This year marks his first full NASCAR Sprint Cup season since 2011. That’s also the last time he ran in the Daytona 500.

“To get back down there is going to be special,’’ Vickers said Thursday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour. “I’m curious to see if it’s going to feel the same this year, that excitement, that energy and that love, as it did the first time I went to Daytona. I have a feeling it will. I think being gone for so long and going through so much since the last time I was there, it’s going to have a similar feel to me. That’s a great feeling.’’

It’s not just Daytona that excites the 30-year-old Vickers, who had run a partial schedule the past two seasons.

“It’s not often that you hear a racecar driver excited about testing,’’ he said. “I’m really looking forward to testing next week. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and getting in a car and making laps. That’s something I haven’t done in three months.’’ 

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