Brian Vickers has emerged as the lead candidate to replace Tony Stewart in the season-opening Daytona 500 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next weekend.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Vickers will fill in for the injured Stewart in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14, granted he is medically cleared to compete by NASCAR, per an anonymous source.
Vickers, 32, has been sidelined since last March due to blood clots, running only two races during the 2015 season for Michael Waltrip Racing and the No. 55. The former XFINITY Series champion has missed races various times since 2010 due to illness, including the recurring blood clots as well as surgery to repair a hole in his heart in December 2014.
In 318 career Cup Series starts, Vickers has three wins, 29 top 5s and 77 top 10s. He made the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2009, finishing 12th.
A long-term substitute — Vickers or otherwise — for Stewart has not been announced.
Stewart-Haas Racing will officially announce the driver of the No. 14 during a press conference on Friday, Feb. 12.
Stewart, who is entering his farewell season as a full-time Sprint Cup driver, was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident last week, suffering a fractured vertebra.
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