Michael Waltrip Racing has announced that Elliott Sadler will take over at the wheel of the team's #55 entry for the final four races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Regular driver Brian Vickers has been ruled out of competition for the rest of the season after the discovery of a small blood clot in his right calf. It means that Vickers requires blood-thinning anti-coagulation medication for at least the next two months, which means he is not able to drive in competition in the meantime.
Vickers took over the full-time seat in the #55 Aaron's-sponsored car in August from Mark Martin, who had in turn moved to Stewart-Haas Racing to substitute for Tony Stewart in the #14 car after the three-time Cup champion broke his leg in a racing accident.
Now Sadler will compete for MWR at Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami, while the #55 will be driven by Michael Waltrip himself for this weekend's upcoming event at Talladega Superspeedway per pre-existing arrangement.
"Elliott has all the attributes we were looking for. He's experienced, familiar with Toyota, has a great attitude plus he's a heck of a driver," said Waltrip. "We'll pair him with [crew chief] Scott Miller and the #55 guys and I know they'll have the Aaron's Dream Machine at the front of the field."
Sadler is currently competing full time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the second-tier Nationwide Series, where he is currently in fifth place with three races remaining in the season.
"I want to thank everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota for letting us borrow Elliott for a few races," acknowledged Waltrip.
As it happens, that makes Sadler a team mate of Vickers in that championship, as Vickers has also been competing in the Nationwide Series in 2013 with JGR. The team has yet to announce its own plans for a replacement for Vickers, and is under no pressure to do so as the Nationwide drivers are currently on hiatus until November.
"I am already a team mate of Brian's at Joe Gibbs Racing and it is really tough to see him going through this again," said Sadler, referring to the period in 2010 when he was forced to miss most of the season while driving for Red Bull Racing because of blood clot issues, the treatment of which led to heart surgery. "Both of us have fought hard to get back in a position to win at NASCAR's highest level," added Sadler.
"I am honoured to have this opportunity to drive for MWR because I know their cars are competitive," he continued. "I want to thank Rob Kauffman, Michael and Aaron's for giving me this chance. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers will be for Brian to have a quick recovery."
Sadler has 431 Sprint Cup starts with victories at Texas and Fontana in 2004, Bristol in 2001, 19 top-five and 69 top-ten finishes.