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NASCAR

Vickers hospitalized with blood clots

DOVER, Del (AP) — NASCAR driver Brian Vickers was hospitalized with blood clots in his legs and around his lungs that will prevent him from racing this weekend at Dover International Speedway.

Red Bull Racing general manager Jay Frye said Vickers is on medication and was hopeful of being released from the hospital on Friday, but could remain there a few more days. Frye said there is "no timetable" for Vickers' return.

"He's got great reason for optimism that everything's going to be fine," Frye said.

Frye says Vickers complained of discomfort on his chest and went to a hospital in Washington. He says the team is not sure what caused the clots.

The 26-year-old Vickers is in his seventh full season racing in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. He has two career Cup wins and made the 12-driver Chase for the championship last season. He's currently ranked 20th in the standings. Missing a start almost certainly will make it impossible for Vickers to make the Chase this season.

"It is a minor setback in a young man's life and career," Frye said. "Obviously, it's a major setback for our race team this weekend."

Jimmie Johnson said Vickers sounded like his usual self when they spoke Thursday night.

"There's still a lot of question marks and concerns and trying to understand just what in the world is going on," Johnson said. "Until they can find out what's going on, there's a lot of worry and concern."

Casey Mears will replace Vickers in the No. 83 Toyota. Frye said Mears will drive for RBR for as long as the team needs him. Frye did not know if Mears would be allowed to drive for Vickers in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, if needed.

Frye said even if Vickers was released before Sunday's race, running at least one lap for points was not an option.

Mears qualified for only two races this season. Sponsorship cutbacks cost him his job at Richard Childress Racing, which is not fielding the car Mears drove to a 21st-place finish in the 2009 final standings.

He drove the first two months of the season for Keyed-Up Motorsports. Mears also drove in Tommy Baldwin's No. 36 car and was on standby after Denny Hamlin had surgery to repair a torn ACL. He'll drive week-to-week in the No. 36 as long as Baldwin can find funding for each race.

"It's been crazy, it really has," Mears said. "Obviously, not what I want. I want something solid and I want to run all season. At the same time, there's been parts of it that have been fun. It's enlightened me a lot on what other guys are doing, different teams are doing. In a lot of ways, I learned a lot this year."