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Still in recovery, Brian Vickers eyes 2014 return

By Jim Utter
jutter@charlotteobserver.com

MARTINSVILLE, Va. Brian Vickers feels ready to return to racing.

He just can’t right now.

Vickers, making his first public appearance since a blood clot forced him to step out of his Sprint Cup Series ride for the second time in three years, said he expects to be back in his Michael Waltrip Racing No.55 Toyota in time for 2014 preseason testing in January.

Vickers cannot participate in on-track activity while he continues a three-month regiment of the blood-thinning medication Xarelto.

“I can’t complain. I’ve got a great life, family and friends. I’ve been frustrated and bummed since this happened again,” Vickers said Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

“I’m just looking forward. Things happen in life and you just keep fighting and have faith – that’s all you can really do. I’m looking forward to being back at Daytona and racing for a championship.”

Doctors say Vickers’ clot, which was diagnosed Oct.14, was traced back to his use of a protective boot he was wearing on his right leg to help heal a mid-foot sprain he suffered during the Aug.24 race at Bristol, Tenn.

“The boot immobilized my right ankle to help with that foot sprain and that boot is what caused the clot,” Vickers said. “It was pretty much right where the boot kind of contricted my calf.

“The good news for me is that in both incidents, there were specific events which created the clots. So, I’ve never spontaneously created a clot at random. The things that have caused my clots are very known factors.”

During July 2010, Vickers had surgery to repair a hole in his heart. A stent was inserted in his left leg to help correct a blood-clotting problem that was diagnosed during May of that season.

Vickers also was diagnosed at the time with May-Thurner Syndrome, a rare condition in which blood clots – called deep venous thrombosis (DVT) – occur in the iliofemoral vein because of compression of blood vessels in the leg.

He missed the rest of the 2010 season but returned to his then-Red Bull Racing team at the start of the 2011 season.

Vickers said he could choose to remain on blood thinners for the rest of his life but both options carry some risk.

“For me, obviously my passion and my love is racing and I want to win a championship at the Sprint Cup level,” Vickers said, “but it’s also more than that.

“I don’t want to be on blood thinners the rest of my life even if I’m not racing. I like to snow ski, I like to ride motorcycles, I like to sky dive – I like to do a lot of things most doctors probably wouldn’t agree with period.

“That’s me, that’s who I am.”

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