Brian Vickers met with the media Saturday afternoon at Bristol and while he provided some answers to his medical issues, his timetable for his return raises some questions about the look of Red Bull Racing in 2011.
Although doctors diagnosed him with the blood-clot disorder May-Thurner syndrome, Vickers believes he’ll be off blood thinners by Jan. 1 and driving for Red Bull Racing when next season begins.
“They gave me full clearance for next year,” the 26-year-old driver said at Bristol Motor Speedway. “I will be back next season racing in January. I’m really excited about that. I had two issues I never knew about fixed. It’s a bit of fresh air for me to really kind of know part of what caused this.”
Vickers was hospitalized in May with chest pains that led to the discovery of blood clots in his leg and lungs. He said he’d stop driving the rest of the season while undergoing treatment, and revealed Saturday the discovery of a third clot, in his finger, that doctors believe moved through a hole in his heart.
He had surgery July 12 to close the passageway, and a second procedure to insert the stent was done the next day.
Vickers said that he'd be back in the no. 83 car in 2011 and Red Bull announced a couple weeks ago that Kasey Kahne would drive for the team next year before going to Hendrick Motorsports. That's two drivers and Red Bull currently operates as a two car team. But Scott Speed is currently in the no. 82 car and has a contract with Red Bull for 2011.
Red Bull GM Jay Frye has left the door open to expansion to three cars for 2011 but has also said that the team continues to evaluate Speed, not a promising sign as we move towards September. Speed was the first American poster boy for Red Bull while in Formula 1, and it's safe to say that his transition to stock cars hasn't been what he or the team had hoped for.
Speed's shown that he can run competitively in the Nationwide and Truck Series, and while it may sound like an off the wall resolution, why can't Red Bull field a team for Speed in either of those two series for 2011? Speed would have the chance to run well and win races and if he performed well enough, he could be back in Cup full time in 2012. And if he didn't, Red Bull could cut their losses and find a replacement for Kahne from outside the organization.
That scenario has worked out for Aric Almirola, and while he didn't land a full-time Cup gig for 2011, the no. 88 for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series isn't a bad move. Hey Red Bull, what do you have to lose?