CORNELIUS, N.C.  —  Excuse Brian Vickers if taking the green flag to start Sunday’s Las Vegas race seems as rewarding as a trip to victory lane.

 

Vickers missed the 2015 season’s first two races as he recovered from Dec. 13 heart surgery. Three months later, he’ll strap himself into the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine and prepare for battle at 200 mph.

 

The Michael Waltrip Racing driver has no doubts about his health.

 

“The doctors say I will be as strong if not better than before,” said the 31-year-old Thomasville, N.C. native. “The surgery was a lot higher risk, but they feel really good about how everything has progressed. My sternum is stronger than before. It’s wired together making loops like a coat hanger.”

 

Vickers latest health battle began on Dec. 11 after he arrived in Charlotte and prepared to drive to Mooresville, N.C. to an Aaron’s photo shoot.

 

He knew something was wrong.

 

“At the hospital they discovered my body was rejecting an artificial patch that was inserted in 2010 to fix a hole in my heart. The procedure was painful but it went great and they feel better about my heart than before.”

 

He wouldn’t be human if he didn’t have his doubts in December. 

 

“Your first question is ‘Am I going to live,’” he recalled. “Once I knew that then I had to decide about racing. Maybe, if I had already won a championship and done everything I wanted to do in racing I would have given serious thought to walking away, but I really want to win races and a championship. There’s more to do and I didn’t want to someday look back and regret not coming back. And, I’m not going to lie, I enjoy going 200 mph. Overcoming problems like this is just what you have to do in life. There’s a lot of people battling things tougher than what I have battled.”

 

Inserting the original heart patch in 2010 and blood clots in 2013 forced Vickers to miss races. Add in the December surgery and few people have a better appreciation of life than Vickers.

 

“You just have this notion that tomorrow is going to be there and when you go through something that jeopardizes all that, you understand how important living for today is.”

 

NOTES:

 

·      MEDIA: BRIAN VICKERS WILL HOLD A MEDIA AVAILABILITY IN THE MEDIA CENTER FRIDAY AT 11 A.M.

 

  • CHASSIS: Primary: 817– Clint Bowyer finished eighth at Homestead, 18th at Kansas in October.  Backup: 813—Bowyer drove chassis to 17th at Charlotte in May, 10th and sixth at Michigan races and ninth at Dover in September.

 

  • 2015: Michael Waltrip finished 26th in the Daytona 500 and Brett Moffitt eighth at Atlanta last weekend driving the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine.

 

  • AARON’S: Aaron’s will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a special paint scheme on the No. 55 this weekend. Aaron’s joined MWR in 2000 serving as a primary sponsor in Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races. With more than 2,100 stores across the country, Aaron’s helps customers own the life they want. Aaron's carries only the best brand names in furniture, electronics, and appliances with a variety of flexible payment options. It's really easy to “Own It” at Aaron’s with customers who are now pre-approved for up to $2,500 in merchandise - no credit needed. During Aaron's 60th Anniversary Sale, for the first time in Aaron's history, get 6 months same as cash on ANYTHING IN THE STORE! And lease select items at just $60 a month. See the full selection of $60 products at your local Aaron's store or at Aarons.com/60.

 

  • CREW CHIEF BILLY SCOTT: Scott began racing motorcycles as a 5-year-old and stock cars when he turned 15. He worked in the truck series as a mechanic before he returned to college to obtain an engineering degree. After graduating in 2005 Scott worked at Robert Yates Racing and began as an engineer at MWR in 2008. The 36-year-old served exclusively as the No. 55 team’s lead engineer before taking over crew chief duties in 2014.

 

  • 55 CREW:

Billy Scott

Crew Chief

Ryan Langley

Front Tire Changer

Chris Hall

Front Tire Carrier

Shannon Myers

Rear Tire Changer

Blake Haugland

Rear Tire Carrier

Wes Evans

Jack Man

Jeff Kerr

Gas Man

Steve Channing

Car Chief

David Cropps

Interior Mechanic

Roman Pemberton

Spotter

Brandon Pope

Race Engineer

Joe Bisson

2nd Engineer

Jeremy Sharpley

Shock Specialist

Kevin White

Front Mechanic

Joe Zanolini

Rear Mechanic

Scott Swift

Tire Specialist

Kirk Butterfield

TRD

Tim Bruce

TRD

Stump Lewis

Truck Driver

Al Nelson

2nd Truck Driver

 

 

·         FOLLOW US ON TWITTER:

            @brianlvickers

            @mw55

            @mwrteam

            @aaronssports

            @aaronsinc

            @toyotaracing

 

  • TELEVISION SCHEDULE:

FRIDAY, MARCH 6:

3-4:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FOX Sports 1 (Follow live)
4:30-5:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, FOX Sports 1 (Follow live)
6-7:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, FOX Sports 1 (Follow live)
7:45 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 1 (Follow live)

SATURDAY, MARCH 7:

11:30 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FOX Sports 2 (Follow live)
12:45 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 2 (Follow live)
2:30-3:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, FOX Sports 1 (Follow live)
4 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Boyd Gaming 300, FOX Sports 1 (200 laps, 300 miles) (Follow live)

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 8:

3:30 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400, FOX (Follow live)


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