Brian Vickers will sit out the early portions of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season because of health issues, his Michael Waltrip Racing team announced Monday afternoon.

In a statement released by the team, Vickers said he had surgery Saturday to repair a patch covering a hole in his heart. Complications from blood clots have sidelined the 31-year-old driver twice in his career -- for most of the 2010 season and for the latter stages of his part-time schedule in 2013.

"First, I want to thank everyone for their sincere support," Vickers said in a statement. "I have faced obstacles before and it has made victory that much sweeter and I know that will be the case again.

"My previous experiences have given me a very keen understanding of my body. Late last week, I knew something wasn't right, so I went to the hospital to be checked out. Following several tests, it was discovered that my body was rejecting an artificial patch that was inserted in 2010 to fix a hole in my heart. Saturday, I had to have corrective surgery to repair the hole and now I am beginning the recovery process. I will need plenty of time, rest and rehab but this temporary setback will not stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion."

Michael Waltrip Racing did not mention a specific length of time that Vickers would be out of the cockpit. The team release also didn't specify a potential substitute driver for the No. 55 Toyota.

"Brian has been a part of the MWR family since 2012 and our thoughts today are with Brian, his wife Sarah and the Vickers family," said Rob Kauffman, the team's co-owner with Michael Waltrip. "As a race team, MWR has plenty to consider and we will confer with our partners, including Aaron's and Toyota. As this is fresh news, we will adjust our future plans as more information becomes available."

Vickers made his first start in NASCAR's premier series in 2003, the year he won the championship in what will become the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015. Vickers has three victories in NASCAR's top division, his most recent coming with Waltrip's team at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July 2013.