Sprint Cup driver Brian Vickers speaks to the media Sunday during a press conference at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va. (AP Photo)
MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Brian Vickers feels healthy enough to race. If he could promise his doctors he wouldn't crash, he'd be in the car Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
A blood clot in his right calf found Oct. 14 has sidelined Vickers for the final five races of the season because Vickers is taking blood thinners. If he crashed, the thinners would make it impossible for doctors to stop internal bleeding.
"There's a lot of moving parts in a car that I can't control and 42 competitors that I can't control," Vickers said Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in his first appearance since the clot was found. "The risk is not even so much external injury like a cut or something, it's really more of an internal injury. They wouldn't be able to stop the bleeding. Your body's ability to form clots, which is if you have an internal injury especially in the brain they wouldn't be able to stop it until the medicine wore off. Other than that, I could be in a race car driving. It wouldn't affect my ability to drive."
Vickers said he'll be on the medication for only three months and will be able to resume his seat in the No. 55 Toyota with Michael Waltrip Racing in time for next season's Daytona 500.
Vickers missed 25 races in 2010 when blood clots were discovered in his legs. He had heart surgery while he was out to prevent future clots from moving through his body to his brain.
He said Sunday he's met with several doctors and does not believe he need to be on blood thinners for the rest of his life, and that this new clot formed because of a boot he was wearing on his foot to treat a sprain suffered when he wrecked at Bristol in August.
"I don't want to be on blood thinners the rest of my life even if I'm not racing," Vickers said. "That wouldn't be my decision. I like to snow ski. I like to ride motorcycles. I like to skydive. I like to do a lot of things that most doctors probably wouldn't agree with, period. But that's me, that's who I am and that's what I like to do.
"My choice is always going to be leaning toward being off of blood thinners regardless of racing. If a doctor tells me unequivocally you need to be on blood thinners, then that's what I'll do. No doctor has told me that."
Vickers' first blood clots were caused by him being immobilized after a crash at Talladega in 2010 and then spending a good deal of time right after on a plane. The clots were initially found in his legs and lung.
"The good news for me in both situations, the first one and this one, is there were specific events, a perfect storm so to speak, that created the clots," Vickers said. "Because of that, I've never spontaneously produced a clot at random. Obviously having a clot twice, you can't argue against the fact that for some reason or another, I'm more prone than someone else."
Team co-owner Waltrip subbed for Vickers at Talladega, and Elliott Sadler will finish the season in the No. 55. He said Waltrip and co-owner Rob Kauffman have been supportive, and he told both they could have access to his doctors if they needed assurances Vickers will be ready to race next season.
"I provided everything for them. I have nothing to hide," he said. "I offered all the information I could and offered them to speak to my doctors, which they did briefly. Even if the clot is still there in three months time I would still come off anticoagulation."
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