Vickers crashes in 1st NASCAR race as Stewart's fill-in

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Brian Vickers crashed in his first race as Tony Stewart's temporary replacement.

Vickers got loose on lap 23 of the exhibition Sprint Unlimited on Saturday night and started a six-car wrecked that included Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer. Vickers clipped Earnhardt's rear bumper, slid back across the track and slammed into Harvick. The melee also took out Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and AJ Allmendinger.

Vickers was evaluated and released from the infield car center.

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The 32-year-old Vickers was officially announced as Stewart's fill-in for the Daytona 500 on Friday, stepping into the No. 14 Chevrolet while the three-time NASCAR champion recovers from a fractured vertebra.

Vickers was medically cleared to race earlier this week despite a recurring battle with blot clots. He missed 34 races last season.