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Brian Vickers being treated for blood clots in Washington hospital, and questions abound

  Brian Vickers (L) was still hospitalized Friday; team GM Jay Frye (R, just before the start of last weekend's Southern 500 at Darlington) concedes the sudden medical problems will almost certainly take the team out of championship contention, because NASCAR rules require a driver to start the race in order for the team to get championship points (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   DOVER, Del.
   Blood clots in his veins, discovered at a Washington D.C. hospital Wednesday, are the reason Brian Vickers won't be driving in this weekend's Dover 400, team general manager Jay Frye said Friday at Dover International Speedway.
  Vickers was in Washington for a PR appearance at Walter Reed Army Medical Center when he complained to a doctor about some chest pains, which apparently began sometime Tuesday.
    The doctor recommended he get checked out immediately, and a CT scan showed blood clots in his veins. Vickers was then hospitalized and given some undisclosed medication to dissolve the clots.
    The specific location of the clots wasn't disclosed, though Frye said some were 'around the lungs.'
    And how long it might take to dissolve the clots was unclear. Also unclear is how long Vickers might have to take any such medication.
    The basic issue with blood clots is that they move through the bloodstream and might lodge in a bad spot and cause a blockage, which can be very serious.
    Frye said it was unclear why the clots formed. But one typical scenario is that clots can develop in the legs, and then possibly travel up to other parts of the body.
   "Brian was having some discomfort in his chest," Frye said. "And with the encouragement of Dr. Jerry Petty (of Charlotte) he went to an emergency room in Washington to get checked out.
   "Numerous tests were conducted, including a CT scan. The scan discovered several blood clots in his veins....not his arteries.
   "He was admitted Wednesday evening, and he is being given medication to dissolve the clots.
   "He's been thoroughly tested and given a clear bill of health.
    "The doctors aren't sure what caused the clots.
   "At this point there is no timetable for his return.

   Casey Mears gets the call to sub for Brian Vickers (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

"We said this is a minor setback...and it is a minor setback in a young man's career, though it's a major setback for our team this weekend," Frye went on. "And with no timetable for his return, we're really not sure what the next steps are.
   "But he's doing great, and he wanted to make sure everyone knew what was going on. We have reason for optimism that everything is going to be fine."
    Frye says Vickers could be released Friday. "Or within the next couple of days for sure.
   "There is no hurry for him to get out, but he's frustrated being in there, because he feels fine. And I understand his frustration.
    "His health is our number one concern.
    "This will affect our chances to make the chase, but Brian is a long-term player with our team, and we're a long-term player in this sport, so his health is key.
    "When we put our our first release, Brian was still being tested. It's not even been 48 hours now; we got the call about midnight Wednesday (from Vickers). When he went in for tests, he didn't think he'd be hospitalized.
   "Unfortunately we've been through things like this before, in our personal history (here referring to Ernie Irvan). And it all (Casey Mears getting the nod) came together very quickly.
   "Our focus right now is just to get through this weekend, and evaluate things again Monday. Casey has agreed to do this as long as we need him.
   "There is a question about the All-star race, are we in it or not. We hope we're in it. We plan to get clarification (from NASCAR) today. (Vickers' win
    "Brian had some pain in his chest Tuesday but we all didn't think much of it. Then the next day he had them again. So Dr. Petty told him to get checked out.
    "These clots dissolve, move, split. There were some in his legs and one around his lungs; I don't know if you could say 'in' his lung or not.
   "He's obviously in a really good place to get it fixed and taken care of.
   "He was smart to listen to his body to get checked out."
    Vickers will not be allowed to start the car for Sunday's 400 and even drive one lap, as he would have to do in order to meet NASCAR rules to get driver championship points (a sometimes controversial rule, in just such cases like this). Is that because of the medication or because doctors won't release Vickers medically to drive? "We're not sure," Frye said.
   "His health is our main concern. We want to make sure he gets better."
   Frye said he has not yet talked with Vickers' doctors, only Vickers. "Brian wants us to talk very openly about all this today," Frye said. And he said he expects to talk with doctors and get more information in the next few days.
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  Brian Vickers: sidelined for a while (Photo: Toyota Motorsports)

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