On May 12, Brian Vickers was diagnosed with blood clots after persistent chest pains convinced him to seek treatment in an emergency room in Washington, D.C.
On Friday, Vickers appeared in the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway to announce that treatment for what his doctor described as "deep vein thrombosis" would keep him out of the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota for the rest of the year.
Vickers, 26, has enlisted the services of his friend and fellow Cup driver Casey Mears to take the wheel in his absence. Team general manager Jay Frye said plans are to keep Mears in the car for the rest of the season, except perhaps for the road-course races at Sonoma, Calif., in June and Watkins Glen, N.Y., in August.
"Due to what's happened and due to the blood thinners that I'm on… I will be out of the car for a minimum of six months, for the rest of the year," said Vickers, who was released from the hospital last Friday, only to be readmitted to a North Carolina hospital on Sunday after the symptoms recurred. Vickers was released on Monday.
"If something changes and I can get in sooner, then great. Right now, it's going to be the remainder of the season—as you can imagine, that is killing me, no pun intended."
Mears drove the No. 83 Camry to a 22nd-place finish last Sunday at Dover and has been approved by NASCAR to take Vickers' place in Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte.
Vickers said he won't race as long as he is taking blood thinners designed to dissolve the clots, which were found in his legs and both lungs. Typically, the treatment lasts 3-6 months.
"I do expect to be in the car next season and to win the Daytona 500," Vickers said.
Vickers, who qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup last year, expects to devote time outside the car to other aspects of his race team.
"It was really hard last Sunday to watch the race on TV and not be in the car," Vickers said. "It was funny—I was laying in the hospital with all these things going on, and instead of probably asking the right questions, all I kept asking was, 'Can I race this weekend?'
"They were trying to be nice and saying, 'We'll talk about it, but probably not.' As reality set in, I realized that this was probably going to be a much longer process than normal. That being said, as disappointing as this is, it's an opportunity that I'm going to use to make the most of life and try to make it a positive, learn something from it."