Martinsville (Va.) Speedway is where a young Brian Vickers fell in love with NASCAR. Just 60 miles from his boyhood home in Thomasville, North Carolina, the Vickers family often made the trip to Martinsville – the only track that’s been on the NASCAR circuit since it began in 1948.
The 32 year old, who now lives in Miami, said he still gets a special feeling each time he walks into the historic track. Vickers will get another chance April 3 when he will drive the No. 14 Janssen Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation Chevrolet SS in Sunday’s STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on the flat, half-mile track in Southern Virginia.
The No. 14 will sport a nearly identical paint scheme to the design it raced March 20 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. A cut tire dropped Vickers two laps behind the leaders early in that race before he rallied to a 13th-place finish – the No. 14’s best of the 2016 season.
Vickers and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have partnered to educate race fans about the serious risk for blood clots. Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation continues golf legend Arnold Palmer’s legacy of philanthropy and invests in organizations that help children, youth, families, the environment and communities. Vickers and Palmer met during their work together with Janssen to share their personal experiences with blood clots. Janssen has chronicled their stories, and fans can view them at www.TreatMyClot.com.
The health condition has forced Vickers out of racing a few times in his 14-year Sprint Cup career. But Vickers isn’t alone in his experience with blood clots. On average, one person dies from a blood clot about every five minutes.
At Martinsville, Vickers is substituting for three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, who sustained a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra in a Jan. 31 all-terrain vehicle accident. Stewart was recently evaluated by doctors, who have implemented a rehabilitation regimen that will hasten his recovery. Future evaluations will be necessary before a timetable is known for Stewart’s return to racing. However, a full recovery is expected for the three-time Sprint Cup champion, as is his return to the No. 14 Chevrolet this season.
Martinsville will mark Vickers’ fourth time racing the No. 14 in 2016. He finished 26th in the Feb. 21 season-opening Daytona 500, and a broken rear gear left him with a 36th-place finish March 6 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Ty Dillon finished 17th at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Feb. 28 and 15th March 13 at Phoenix International Raceway.