Brian Vickers will miss the rest of the 2013 NASCAR racing season after a medical examination found a small blood clot in the calf region of his right leg, Michael Waltrip Racing announced Monday.
Vickers, who was sidelined for the last six months of the 2010 season because of blood clots in his legs and lungs, will be unavailable to drive either the No. 55 MWR Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series or the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Vickers said Dr. William Downey has placed him on blood-thinning medication, rendering him unavailable medically to drive for the balance of the year, effectively immediately.
Vickers said he plans to return to the No. 55 Camry in 2014.
"If there's anything to be positive about with today's news it's that this is only a temporary setback," Vickers said in an MWR release. "The timing for this is never good, but I'm glad we'll get it out of the way now and be ready to run for a championship with the Aaron's Dream Machine in 2014."
After taking a part-time role in the No. 55 car this season, Vickers is signed to drive the car full time next year. Team owner Michael Waltrip will be behind the wheel of the No. 55 this weekend at Talladega, as planned, and the team is looking for a substitute driver (or drivers) to complete the balance of the races.
Vickers has competed in 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup events this season, 14 with MWR and three as a substitute for injured Denny Hamlin. On July 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Vickers posted his third career win in NASCAR's premier series.
Joe Gibbs Racing has not announced its plans for the No. 20 car for the three races remaining on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule. Vickers currently is eighth in the NNS standings, 97 points behind series leader Austin Dillon.
MWR reorganization features two full-time cars in 2014
Michael Waltrip Racing will run two full-time and one part-time car next season, leaving driver Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Chad Johnston free to pursue other options for 2014, the team announced Monday.
MWR will field the Nos. 15 and 55 Toyotas full-time, competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, with the No. 56 running a limited schedule. Team owner Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 56 Camry in the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 23.
Scott Miller, who took over as interim crew chief for the No. 55 with the announced departure of Rodney Childers from Michael Waltrip Racing, will continue as full-time crew chief for the car in 2014. In addition, MWR is bolstering its research-and-development effort.
Clint Bowyer drives the No. 15 Camry and is competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship this season, having qualified for the Chase. The status of Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 55, was clouded Monday with news of a recurrence of the sort of blood clot that kept him out of action for the final six months of the 2010 season.
Because he is taking blood-thinning medication under doctor's orders, Vickers is unavailable to drive for the rest of the 2013 season.
"Our goals for the reorganization were two-fold, firstly to improve the competitiveness of our race teams and, secondly maintain a stable organizational structure," co-owner Rob Kauffman said. "The team's focus has been to find that last one percent needed to move from Chase participant to Cup champion. This realignment will get us closer to that last one percent."
NASCAR penalized MWR heavily in September for attempting to manipulate the outcome of the final regular-season race at Richmond. In addition to a $300,000 fine to the organization, each of its three drivers lost 50 championship points. In Truex's case the penalty, knocked him out of a spot in the Chase.
NAPA Auto Parts, Truex's sponsor, subsequently opted out of its contract with MWR, a move that cost the company an estimated $16 million annually.
On Monday, MWR laid off approximately 15 percent of its work force and informed the employees who were affected by the cutbacks.
"Today was about doing what we had to do, not what we wanted to do," Kauffman said. "It was important to let those whose jobs were affected know as early as possible, and a majority of those will remain with MWR through the end of the season."
By Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service