Indy 500 start jeopardized after Hinchcliffe suffers concussion

He reportedly asked for assistance in removing his helmet. He was then taken on a stretcher to the infield care centre in obvious discomfort.

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INDIANAPOLIS – Canadian IndyCar racer James Hinchcliffe’s ability to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 is now in question after he was sidelined by a concussion suffered Saturday afternoon during the running of the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

 The incident that caused the injury occurred on lap 57 of the Grand Prix, which was the first Verizon IndyCar Series race held on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Driver Simon Pagenaud of France lost traction as he exited Turn 6 and he lifted off the throttle slightly to regain control of his car. He was then struck in the right rear by Justin Wilson of England, who contacted Pagenaud with his left front wing, causing a piece to break away.
According to a representative from Hinchcliffe’s team, Andretti Autosport, the debris then became airborne and landed on Hinchcliffe’s head, causing damage to his crash helmet’s visor.
Hinchcliffe, of Oakville, was able to bring his car to a halt in the runoff area in Turn 7. On the television broadcast, he was heard to exclaim as he stopped the car: “Oh, my God.”
He reportedly asked for assistance in removing his helmet. He was then taken on a stretcher to the infield care centre in obvious discomfort.
After an initial evaluation, Hinchcliffe was transported by ground ambulance to Methodist Hospital in downtown Indianapolis and underwent a CT scan of his head and neck. Upon reviewing the results, IndyCar Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger diagnosed Hinchcliffe with a concussion.
Hinchcliffe was discharged from the hospital Saturday evening and will return Sunday morning for further evaluation. He will require medical clearance before he will be allowed to drive his race car again.
“I’m a little stiff and sore,” Hinchcliffe said in a team statement. “I’d love to be back in the car (for Sunday’s opening day of practice for the Indianapolis 500), but I suppose I should probably let the doctors make that decision.”
Practice for the 98th running of the Indy 500 will begin at noon Sunday and will be held daily until Friday. Qualifying runs are scheduled for next Saturday and Sunday.
The Andretti team is not certain at this stage to what extent Hinchcliffe will be able to participate in the coming days.
“No further decisions will be made by the team until we receive the further evaluation (Sunday) morning,” said Ryann Rigsby, Director of Corporate Communications for Andretti Autosport.
In the meantime, E.J. Viso of Venezuela, who drove for the team last year, has been put on standby and is ready to step into the No. 27 United Fiber & Data-sponsored car, if necessary.
One potential scenario is that Hinchcliffe may not be cleared to qualify next weekend but could be cleared in time to participate in the 500 on Sun., May 25. In that event, Viso would be permitted to qualify the car on Hinchcliffe’s behalf, and Hinchcliffe would be classified as a replacement driver and would start from the back of the 33-car field.
Simon Pagenaud’s car was not damaged in the incident in which Hinchcliffe was injured, and he went on to win the Grand Prix, with Ryan Hunter-Reay of the United States second and Helio Castroneves of Brazil third. Hinchcliffe was officially classified 20th in the 25-car field.
Pole-sitter Sebastian Saavedra of Colombia stalled at the start and was hammered from behind by Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin. A millisecond earlier, he was also hit by Carlos Munoz of Mexico. Juan Pablo Montoya also stalled at the start. None of the drivers was hurt in that crash, one of several during the race.
The Finish:
Results of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (4) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
2. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
3. (10) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
4. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
5. (23) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
6. (14) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
7. (2) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
8. (5) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
9. (16) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
10. (9) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
11. (18) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
12. (22) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
13. (17) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
14. (13) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
15. (6) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
16. (8) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 81, Running
17. (15) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
18. (20) Martin Plowman, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
19. (24) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 58, Mechanical
20.  (11) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 56, Contact
21.  (12) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 50, Contact
22.  (21) Franck Montagny, Dallara-Honda, 47, Contact
23.  (19) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact
24.  (1) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 0, Contact
25.  (25) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact
Race Statistics
Winners average speed:   96.462
Time of Race: 02:04:24.0261
Margin of victory: 0.8906 of a second
Cautions: 4 for 19 laps
Lead changes: 12 among 8 drivers
Lap Leaders:
Hunter-Reay 1-9
Hawksworth 10 – 27
Hunter-Reay 28
Wilson 29 – 30
Hawksworth 31 – 43
Pagenaud 44
Hunter-Reay 45 -51
Wilson 52 – 53
Hunter-Reay 54
Castroneves 55 – 69
Bourdais 70
Servia 71 – 77
Pagenaud 78 – 82


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