Conor Daly overcomes tough week to make Indy field

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A grueling month of May for rookie driver Conor Daly got better on Sunday as he was able to make the field for next weekend’s Indianapolis 500, sticking his No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing Honda on the inside of Row 11. Daly put up a four-lap average of 223.582 miles per hour in the opening stages of second-day qualifying this afternoon.

“We are IN the big show. The 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. It wasn’t pretty how we got it done, but LETS GO RACING! Dream come true,” the Indiana youngster tweeted on Sunday evening.

Getting into the “500” had to be a moment of relief for Daly, who nearly flipped over during a frightening crash in practice last Thursday (the first of the month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and then was unable to complete a qualifying run on Pole Day because of a broken exhaust header on his car.

“I have to thank the crew for all they’ve done,” he said. “I think they had the car apart at least 15 times after the crash and the problems we had [Saturday]. We got the engine back about 8:30 last night, and they worked late getting it back in.”

Daly will have the biggest climb ahead of him on Race Day out of this year’s rookie class at Indy. Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz (second) and Team Penske’s A.J. Allmendinger (fifth) are up toward the front of the field for the start of the “500,” while Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Tristan Vautier (28th) will join Daly (31st) in beginning from the rear.

Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.