Blood clots, and the blood thinners required to treat them, have sidelined Brian Vickers for the fourth time in his NASCAR career.
Vickers first missed time in 2010, and the latest bout with blood clots will keep him from driving again this season, perhaps even ending his career.
But Vickers’ misfortune presents an opportunity for David Ragan, one upon which he hopes to capitalize.
“I want to seize the opportunity, absolutely,” Ragan said. “Everything does happen for a reason, and it’s unfortunate that guys get injured and get sick, but that’s the world we live in. You’re going to have some situations like that. I’m very grateful for my health, and for my opportunity here. I plan to make the best of it.”
Ragan had been filling in for Kyle Busch, who was injured in a gruesome crash at Daytona International Speedway in late February, but he jumped at the chance for a full-time ride.
Ragan’s first race as the full-time driver in the No. 55 SpongeBob SquarePants/Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota will be Saturday’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway.
“It puts everything in a different perspective,” said Ragan, who has won two races in 290 career Sprint Cup starts since 2006. “I knew that the (No.) 18 car, I was just filling for Kyle for a few weeks. That was only temporary.”
Ragan’s new ride has a feeling of permanence — at least for the balance of the 2015 season.
“This really feels a lot like home,” Ragan said. “The guys at Michael Waltrip Racing have welcomed me in. We’ve got a lot of hard work in front of us. We’ve got to hit the ground running and take things serious, starting with the first race.
“We’ve got a lot to learn, but it’s a good feeling to have a solid sponsor in Aaron’s that has been around the sport for a long time and an owner that’s been around the sport for a long time as a driver and owner. It’s a good combination.”