LAS VEGAS, Nev. – It was a different place but a familiar scene for Michael Waltrip Racing driver Brian Vickers.
“I feel like we’ve had this press conference before,” Vickers quipped on Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he’ll return to racing in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at the 1.5-mile track.
Three times in the past five years, Vickers has been sidelined by serious medical issues. In May 2010 he was diagnosed with blood clots in his legs and lungs and missed the balance of that season. In 2013, the recurrence of blood clot in his right calf kept Vickers out of action from mid-October through the end of the season.
And December heart surgery to replace an artificial patch designed to repair a hole between the two upper chambers of his heart.
After missing the first two races of the season, Vickers is ready for his third comeback.
“There are certainly times where I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be back and then you kind of deal with those emotions and then all the sudden you’re back and then you have to deal with those emotions, Vickers said on Friday. “I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. I think to a large extent a month ago, I was as curious as probably some of you were as to how I would feel (this) morning.
“I can tell you I couldn’t be happier. I was talking to someone on the way in and they asked what my emotions were going into this and I kind of look at it like a win-win. If we go out there and do well, that’s great. And even if we don’t, just being able to get back in a race car again and go 200 (mph) is incredible.”
Vickers, however, isn’t about to temper his excitement with conservative expectations.
“No matter what the outcome, I’m happy to be here and happy to be back in a car again and get a chance to do something I love, but I’m an optimist,” Vickers said. “I think we’re going to go out there and do well.”
HONORING WENDELL SCOTT
The recognition of newly inducted NASCAR Hall of Fame member Wendell Scott continues this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where all teams in Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series will be given decals commemorating Scott’s first start in NASCAR’s top series.
On Mar. 4, 1961 at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in Spartanburg, S.C., Scott made his first start in what was then the NASCAR Grand National Series. He finished 17th, retiring because of an oil pressure problem after 52 of 200 laps.
Honoring Scott with decals commemorating his first start during race weekends in early March is a tradition that has continued since its inception in 2010. The first African-American driver to win a race in NASCAR’s top series (Dec. 1, 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Fla.), Scott was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January.
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