Photo credit: Crowd Goes Wild
In his first public appearance since Monday's announcement that he'd miss the rest of the 2013 season with the reoccurrence of a pre-existing medical condition, Brian Vickers made one thing clear. He intends to be in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota come the Daytona 500.
"I feel like I can drive a race car, but I can't," Vickers said during a Thursday stop on the set of FOX Sports 1's "Crowd Goes Wild" TV show. "I expect to be in the No. 55 at Daytona."
The team announced earlier this week that the 29-year-old would be sidelined after doctors discovered a small blood clot in his right calf. Doctors placed the driver on blood-thinning medication.
Waltrip is in the No. 55 at Talladega. Elliott Sadler, Vickers' Joe Gibbs Racing teammate in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, will pilot the 55 for the remaining four Sprint Cup Series races, starting at Martinsville.
Vickers missed most of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with blood clots in his leg and lungs. He had heart surgery that summer and returned to NASCAR competition the following year.
With his mind outside of the race car, Vickers gave host Regis Philbin and company some insight into what Talladega is like, in terms of Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup implications and the racing itself.
"I've never seen (Talladega) shaken out in a calm manner," said Vickers. "It is always a wild race and it's always fantastic for the fans and it can go either way for the drivers -- you either love it or you hate it, there's nowhere really in between.
"The thing about the race; what makes it great for the fans is you've got 43 cars, bumper-to-bumper going 200 mph playing a chess match. It looks calm but it is anything but inside that race car. The problem is, because we're so close at that race track because it's restrictor-plate racing, when one person makes a mistake there's usually 15 cars in the wreck and that's where it really throws a curveball into the Chase."
One positive sign in terms of Vickers' recovery: he rode his bicycle at light-warp speed through the streets of New York on his way into the studio (see video).