In unfortunate news that neatly coincides with Grinch Season, Sprint Cup driver Brian Vickers' body is rejecting an artificial patch meant to repair a hole found in his heart in 2010. He underwent surgery on Saturday to repair the hole again, and the recovery time will cut into the start of the 2015 season.
The lyrics are "your heart's an empty hole," anyway, not "your heart has a hole." Vickers can't be the Grinch; the Grinch just stole part of his season. (Again.)
This isn't the first time that heart and circulatory problems have robbed Vickers of race time. Blood clots in his legs and lungs as well as this hole between his atria caused him to miss the final 25 races of the 2010 season. In 2013, he missed the last five races of the season due to a blood clot in his right calf.
Per the Associated Press, Brian Vickers credits "a very keen understanding of my body" as the reason why he went to the doctor last Monday. When you're sick that frequently, you start to recognize the warning signs of something fishy happening again. Tests revealed that the patch applied to his heart in 2010 was being rejected by his body.
Vickers remains positive about his recovery, though, as he always has throughout all of his health-related issues. In a statement made to Yahoo! Sports:
First, I want to thank everyone for their sincere support. I have faced obstacles before and it has made victory that much sweeter and I know that will be the case again.
I will need plenty of time, rest and rehab but this temporary setback will not stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.
Vickers races for Michael Waltrip Racing, who have yet to name a replacement driver for the time Vickers has to spend in recovery. MWR co-owner Rob Kaufmann had this to say to Yahoo:
Brian has been a part of the MWR family since 2012 and our thoughts today are with Brian, his wife Sarah and the Vickers family. As a race team, MWR has plenty to consider and we will confer with our partners, including Aaron's and Toyota. As this is fresh news, we will adjust our future plans as more information becomes available.
Nick Bromberg at Yahoo speculates that team owner Michael Waltrip may step in for the Daytona 500, given Waltrip's previous two Daytona 500 wins and his relationship with sponsor Aaron's.
Brian Vickers will be missed from the grid until he's back. Vickers was the youngest ever Busch (now Xfinity) Series champion until Chase Elliott broke that record in 2014, plus he scored nine top-ten finishes in addition to the pole at Talladega in 2014. Given how much on-and-off he's experienced due to health issues, his three wins in the Sprint Cup over time are pretty impressive.
Our best wishes for a quick recovery go out to Brian Vickers.