Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Brian Vickers medically cleared to race beginning in early March; granted Chase waiver

Team press release

Doctors have medically cleared Brian Vickers to return to full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup racing in early March, three months after corrective heart surgery.

Vickers will make his season debut in the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8.

MWR co-founder and two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 55 in the 57th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 22. MWR will name a substitute driver for the March 1 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway later.

“The doctors gave me a clean bill of health and said I will be better than before,” said Vickers, the 31-year-old Thomasville, N.C. native whose health issues interrupted his racing seasons in 2010 and again in 2013.

NASCAR Statement from Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President & Chief Racing Development Officer on Brian Vickers Participation in 2015 Season

   DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 21, 2015) – “With the clearance from his physicians, Brian Vickers has satisfied all necessary NASCAR requirements to resume racing on March 5. Further, NASCAR has reviewed the circumstances surrounding his situation and has determined that he will maintain Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup eligibility despite neither entering nor attempting to qualify in the first two championship events, provided he meets all other necessary eligibility requirements.”

Kevin Harvick will retain Tony Stewart's pit crew permanently

   An official with Stewart-Haas Racing on Wednesday confirmed a late-season pit crew swap made between the teams of eventual 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick and teammate and co-owner Tony Stewart has been made permanent for the start of the 2015 season.

   The move was first made early last September in time for the 10-race Chase playoff after Harvick's team had several documented struggles during the course of the season. At the time, however, the change was announced as a temporary one. 

   Stewart first mentioned the move being made permanent on Tuesday at a USO visit with troops and military families at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

   "There really wasn't that much difference in terms of their times on paper, it was within a tenth of a second. We just felt like that chemistry worked really well," Stewart told

   Harvick won three of the Chase playoff races, including the penultimate race at Phoenix, which gave him the opportunity to compete for the championship at the series finale at Homestead, Fla, which he also won.