Andrew Luck to IMS PA: I think drivers are athletes

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The social media firestorm around Donovan McNabb’s comments saying, in his opinion, drivers aren’t athletes took over the sports blogosphere from last November.

Luckily for the racing world, Andrew Luck doesn’t agree.

“I think they are (athletes),” Luck responded to an Indianapolis Motor Speedway PA announcer’s question during the rain delay of Friday’s “Fast Friday” practice for the Indianapolis 500. “You see what they do behind the wheel and to prep for it, there’s no question to me.”

Perhaps this was a case of Luck playing nice to the local crowd – he is one of the city of Indianapolis’ most beloved athletes – but more likely it was a case of “he knows of what he speaks.”

Luck took in practice at last year’s Indianapolis 500 as well, as a guest of Charlie Kimball and the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team. So he has first hand experience of seeing the Verizon IndyCar Series up close and personal.

Said Kimball, last year, of Luck’s visit: “I wanted them to come see my office, because in the winter, it’s easy to turn on the TV and see these guys go to work on Sundays. I wanted to give them the opportunity see what I think is the greatest sporting venue in the world – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and see us turn laps at 215, 220 mph and give them the full Indianapolis experience.”

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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