NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB 400
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 18, 2016
BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 14 JANSSEN ARNIE’S ARMY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed his battle with blood clots, driving the No. 14 Chevrolet SS at Martinsville and beyond and many other topics. Full Transcript:
CAN YOU SHARE YOU’RE FEELINGS BEING HERE LAST YEAR AND GETTING OUT OF THE CAR AND HOW YOU FEEL GETTING INTO THE CAR THIS WEEKEND:
“I’m glad I made it to the stage this time in a firesuit. It has been a challenging five or six years for me. As many of you know. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, in a weird way I’m very thankful for those experiences. I’ve grown a lot as a person and a lot of good things have come from it. The opportunity to raise awareness as we discussed up here, on an issue… I was lucky to win my battle with blood clots, many people are not. The first time I went I was misdiagnosed as well. They felt I had pneumonia. I was taking antibiotics. Luckily I stuck around to find out that wasn’t the case because that would have been really bad if I had left the hospital. I understand exactly very much what we are talking about. It’s a serious issue. It’s interesting when it first happened to me I had so many people, fans and crew members and truck drivers that came up to me and said they have had or do have blood clots and they are on this medication or that. It’s interesting that story just kind of keeps coming to me. I didn’t know a single person before I had my first blood clot that has blood clots. Then all of a sudden I had my first blood clot and I knew all these people that had blood clots. They just never told me. No one ever really talked about it. It was so interesting. Now I feel like because of what we have done here and what we have been doing for the last three years, more and more people are talking about it. More and more people are discussing it amongst themselves and with other people and it really does make a difference. I’m really proud of that.
“For me being back here one year later, when I was sitting here a year ago I’ve never been the kind of guy to give up, and by no means was I giving up then, but I certainly didn’t think I would be sitting here a year later. I wasn’t sure what the future held. Because I was aware of the signs and symptoms I did catch my blood clot early and I didn’t feel at all that my life was in danger, but I wasn’t so sure about my racing career. I knew through the help of a lot of great doctors I felt confident I was going to be able to find a solution, but then the next question was would I find a winning team willing to put me back in a car. Unfortunately, I ended up back in a great car, not the circumstances I wanted to get here, but that opportunity did present itself and I was able to jump on it. For that I’m very thankful. It was an interesting feeling walking back into this media center. I think walking back into Daytona was an interesting feeling and it really hit me today walking in here. Because this desk and this room has a whole different meaning that even Daytona doesn’t for me.”
WHAT IS YOUR FUTURE SCHEDULE FOR RACING IN THE SPRINT CUP SERIES?
“Well I think practice is next and then qualifying. I’m really thinking long term. I just want to get through tomorrow (laughs). To be honest with you, the only think I do know is I’m going to have a weekend off next weekend. I’m kind of really enjoying this schedule. I don’t know if NASCAR is up to changes, but I am loving the weekend off, weekend on thing. That has been very relaxing, very fun. I get to race, but I also get some time off. I’m going to get it again with Easter weekend, but as of right now I’m going to be in Martinsville in the Janssen Arnie’s Army Foundation car again. Really pumped about that to kind of continue that forward. Then we are figuring out everything from there. Nothing has really changed I think everyone is really just kind of waiting to see how Tony shakes out. As much as I and I can genuinely and honestly say this, as much as I want to race this car as long as I can, because it’s a great team and a great car and a great opportunity. I really want to see Tony back in it. I have been in his shoes. I know exactly what it’s like. It’s his last season; he deserves to be in this car as much as he can be. I’m honored to race it as long as I need to and as long as I can, but I’m happy to turn the keys back over as soon as he’s ready.”
WHEN YOU WERE FIRST DIAGNOSED WITH THIS YEARS AGO WHAT DID YOU THINK YOUR FUTURE IN RACING WAS GOING TO BE LIKE?
“I think I thought a lot of things at different times. When I first walked into the hospital I thought I had pneumonia they had me convinced. I had never even heard of a blood clot. Then I realized and found out I had a blood clot and my comment I believe to the doctor was ‘that is great let’s get this solved because I’ve got to be at practice in Dover on Friday’. This was like on Wednesday or Thursday. Again, it was just a lack of understanding and just kind of reiterating this is what this campaign is about is helping not only the patients and the fans out there understand what this is, but even some of the doctors. It’s an under diagnosed issue and under thought about issue. But, then he said ‘no I don’t think you understand this is a long-term problem.’ I said ‘well that’s okay, I can miss practice and qualifying, but I’ve got to be on the track Sunday.’ (Laughs) Then that was when he really sat me down and said ‘no’. At first it was like you are going to be out for ‘awhile’ then we’ve got to understand what caused this and we can kind of figure out what’s next.
“So then it went from I needed to be on the track two days from now to I may not be on the track for six months or ever. That was kind of hard to grasps. Then as I started working through that and trying to work with my doctors to find out the right solution for me at the time, it was a lot of emotions. A lot of thoughts about what the future of my racing career was going to look like, if it was going to exist at all. Then when I went back racing we felt like we found a solution, we felt like we had found the problem and we moved forward. I raced for several years without a problem. I took the opportunity to race all over the world. I raced Le Mans, I raced in NASCAR, I partied with Mark Martin, and it was wonderful. It was a great couple of years honestly. I had the opportunity to partner with Janssen and help start raising awareness and then the issue kind of popped up again. Then every situation it was very much keeping my mind open to all possibilities that I could race again forever or I may never race again and everything in between. But, I certainly wasn’t going to give up. I also wasn’t going to make a poor decision either. I very much was going to listen to my doctors every step of the way. If they felt comfortable with me getting back in a car and I felt comfortable being in the car that is what I was going to do. If they didn’t feel comfortable with me being in the car then that is fine. I was very comfortable with either scenario. I had my preferences, but I was very comfortable with either scenario.”
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR IMPRESSION OF ARNOLD PALMER VERSUS WHAT YOU ANTICIPATED?
“I will defend Kevin (Nealon) he is a legend in the comedy world. And having spent some time with him and gone to some of his shows I understand why he is kind of a legend, but you are right even he would tell you that the real legend in the group is Arnold Palmer without question. Mr. Palmer has been great. I’m honored to have the opportunity to spend some time with him. I think that there is a sense of depth and wisdom that he has about himself because of his life experiences and what he had done and what he has accomplished and all those things because of where he is at in life and his age. But I also, there is a part of me and I think right now is a very special time to be with him in his life. There is also part of me listening to his stories I would have loved to have been around back in his hay day.
“He did galvanize as the foundation name kind of represents and I think a lot of people today, and I certainly was one of them until I started to get to know Mr. Palmer that there is a reason it’s called Arnie’s Army Foundation. I don’t think many people kind of appreciate why that is. He galvanized an army. He was America’s kind of athlete. He was America’s guy. He galvanized this massive group of people around him for so long, but he is a legend. He was a legend then and he still is. Although he hasn’t been playing 18 holes (of golf) lately, but he can still putt. We had some putting and chipping competitions and he just crushed all of us. There were a couple of putts that we had set-up for one of the shoots that no one even came close to making this putt. We tried and tried and tried and then he steps up and he is trying to remember his line, they are going back and forth to get his line right and then he just putts every single one. I think he made like six out of seven. It just kept going in. Not a single other person could make this putt. It was like a 30 foot putt. That is when we realized – he’s still got it. It’s been a great experience and it’s an honor to drive Arnie’s Army’s car.”
IS THERE A DEFINING MOMENT BEING A SPOKESPERSON FOR BLOOD CLOTS?
“I don’t think there is one scenario I think there’s a lot. I’ve had a lot of fans come up to me and tell him their stories and ask me questions. I always have to remind them I’m not a doctor and tell them to go speak to their doctor to find out what is right for them. I do take the opportunity to raise awareness and tell them my story. I think them hearing my story gives them some sense of comfort. I think one thing that is great about the campaign is myself and Kevin Nealon and Mr. Palmer and now Chris Bosh all kind of tell their own story. They are all unique stories. They are all different. That is the case with every single person that is out there. Every person in this room, everybody’s story is unique, everybody’s story is different. I give them the opportunity to tell my story and I think my story really resonates with a lot of people because I’m young. I’m an athlete, I’m young, I mean its proof that this can happen to anyone. It has been a powerful moment. I’ve had a lot of people call me up in some of the weirdest place like friends who will call me up and say hey I’m on an airplane or text me or call me when they land. My calf hurts and it’s swollen and it’s red. I’m like well ‘you should go see a doctor’. Did you not listen to the campaign? But there have unquestionably been moments where it’s made a difference. I’ve seen those moments and it’s a very special feeling, it really is.”
ARE YOU ALSO LOOKING AT THE POSSIBILITY OF GOING BACK TO RACING SPORTS CARS AGAIN?
“Yes, I am open to racing everything that has a seat, four wheels and a steering wheel if the opportunity presents itself. I would absolutely go back to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I would absolutely go back to the BC Series. I would be open to racing anything. I love racing. I love being in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. I think it’s one of the greatest forms or racing in the world. It’s fun for the drivers. Everyone always talks about, yeah, but your car’s don’t’ have wings, and I’m like yes, they don’t and they pass more and they race side-by-side and we get to bump each other. It’s a fantastic form of racing, but there is also a lot of merit to the other stuff. I’ve had the opportunity to drive a lot of different cars in different series and they are all amazing. I think in the racing community, it’s funny, everyone in the racing community agrees that racing is one of the best forms of sports and most entertaining and fun and exciting for the drivers and the fans. Now, they all may debate which series they think is the best, but they all agree that all of them are great. I would second that. I would love to be back in a sports car again and anything else that comes along.”
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