Dale Coyne Racing driver Esteban Gutierrez sustained a heavy accident in qualifying for Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto (3 p.m. ET, CNBC) and was shaken up, although able to climb from his No. 18 UNIFIN Honda under his own power in the day.
But his status for race day is uncertain, following confirmation from INDYCAR that he had experienced concussion-like symptoms following his medical evaluation. While he has been checked and released, he is not yet cleared to drive.
Here’s INDYCAR’s official statement: “Following an incident during qualifications today for the Honda Indy Toronto, Dale Coyne Racing driver Esteban Gutierrez was evaluated by INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger after experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Gutierrez was treated and released but has not been cleared to drive, pending further evaluation Sunday morning.”
Gutierrez did speak to the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network after the incident and also had quotes in the team post-qualifying release.
“It was not ideal obviously, it’s been a tough weekend overall,” Gutierrez said. “Yesterday we lost a bit of track time due to contact in Turn 1 and today it was a pretty hard hit in a high-speed corner. I was having some understeer and I was trying to anticipate a bit the entry of the corner but I touched the inside wall a bit and it sent me straight into the outside wall, pretty hard. It’s unfortunate and I feel really bad for the team, they have a lot of work to do.”
Sunday warmup is scheduled from 11:30 to noon ET, and if Gutierrez is cleared to drive, he’ll be able to resume the weekend in what is expected to be a new car. Per Trackside Online, Gutierrez’s chassis was damaged enough in the accident in qualifying to where they’d need to go to a backup car, and with Coyne having limited chassis at its disposal, the accident – and the subsequent crash damage – was the last thing they needed.
If Gutierrez is not able to drive, that complicates things a bit. Guelph, Ontario native Robert Wickens, who practiced in Mikhail Aleshin’s car at Road America, could be a candidate to substitute and Zach Veach, who already played the role of injury substitute once this year for JR Hildebrand, is also on site in Toronto and could be available if need-be.
At Toronto in 2013, a similar-type situation hung over a driver’s status for Sunday, but that came in Toronto’s first doubleheader weekend. Ryan Briscoe sustained a wrist injury and was replaced by Carlos Munoz at Panther Racing. It marked the Colombian’s first ever street course start in IndyCar.