From the Marbles - NASCAR

On Friday morning, Red Bull Racing general manager/vice president Jay Frye spoke publicly for the first time about the medical condition that has forced Brian Vickers out of this weekend's Autism Speaks 400. The news wasn't good -- Vickers had blood clots in his veins -- but Frye was optimistic that Vickers will make a full recovery and be back on the track soon.

Vickers, who made the Chase last year but currently sits in 20th place, was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday preparing for a Thursday visit to Walter Reed Hospital. He began feeling discomfort in his chest, and after consulting with team doctors, checked into a D.C.-area hospital, where he remains now. CT scans revealed the clots, and doctors immediately put Vickers on medication to begin dissolving the clots.

One major question -- and one which Frye was unable to answer completely -- was why Vickers can't even run a single lap to preserve his individual points. "It became clear [Thursday] morning that this weekend was not going to be an option," Frye said. "His health is our main concern." Frye added that he's taking the long view here: "He's a long-term player with Red Bull Racing; we're a long-term player with the sport."

There's no word yet on when Vickers will be released from the hospital. "We're optimistic he could be released [Friday], but it could be tomorrow or later. He's in the best place he could be. ... There's no hurry for him to get out. He feels fine, but he knows there's a problem and he knows he has to address the problem."

Frye noted that NASCAR's rules about drivers' presence in their cars are hampering Vickers' Chase possibilities, but indicated that the team had larger concerns. "If this affects our Chase chances," he said, "we'll reset our goals for the rest of the season." He gave no indication when Vickers would be able to return to the 83.

Blood clots are far more common in veins than in arteries, according to various medical websites. Where arterial clots can cause brain damage if they block the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain, clots in the veins most often cause difficulties in the lungs. Clots most often form in the legs, then break off and move to the lungs. Without offering speculation, and based on all the information that we have, the fact that Vickers felt pain in his chest rather than his legs is potentially troubling. And again, without going too far down the road of speculation, one of the primary causes of blood clots is a long period of immobility -- such as sitting in a car for 500 miles, for instance.

Unfortunately, without knowing the cause of the clots or a long-term prognosis, it's difficult to predict with any certainty how this will affect Vickers' season, to say nothing of his career.

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