NASCAR driver Brian Vickers cleared to return to racing

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Brian Vickers has been given medical clearance to return to racing in early March as he continues to recover from corrective heart surgery

NASCAR driver Brian Vickers cleared to return to racing

He will, however, still miss the opening two races of the Sprint Cup season, including the Daytona 500.

"The doctors gave me a clean bill of health and said I will be better than before," said Vickers.

"The advancements in modern medicine and surgical procedures are amazing, and I have to thank my doctors at the Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute and Carolinas Medical Center for their extraordinary care.

"I have literally put my life in their hands twice, and I cannot begin to express my level of gratitude."

The Michael Waltrip Racing driver will be replaced by team boss Waltrip at Daytona, although the squad is still yet to announce who will drive its #55 car at Atlanta.

NASCAR said in a statement that the 31-year-old will remain in contention for this year's Chase despite missing the first two events, provided that he meets the remaining eligibility requirements.

"With the clearance from his physicians, Brian Vickers has satisfied all necessary NASCAR requirements to resume racing on March 5," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's executive vice-chairman and chief racing development officer.

"Further, NASCAR has reviewed the circumstances surrounding his situation and has determined that he will maintain Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup eligibility despite neither entering nor attempting to qualify in the first two championship events, provided he meets all other necessary eligibility requirements."

Vickers has overcome several medical problems in recent years. Blood clots and heart surgery ruled him out of much of the 2010 season, and he was also sidelined by additional blood clot problems in 2013.

The latest setback was triggered when his body rejected a patch that had been used to repair a hole in his heart during the earlier surgery.

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