The bad news today regarding the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda had a mechanical issue during Indianapolis 500 practice – in the words of Andretti Autosport fill-in driver EJ Viso, “the engine blew up.”
The good news is that its usual driver, James Hinchcliffe, is now cleared to drive after he suffered a concussion on Saturday in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He progressed throughout the week and was re-evaluated today.
The official medical update from INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger is that Hinchcliffe has been cleared to resume racing after being re-evaluated today & passing ImPACT test.
Here’s a statement from Hinchcliffe released by the team:
“It goes without saying, I’m thrilled to be back in the United Fiber & Data car. It’s been a long couple of days watching everyone practice, but obviously getting healthy was the number one goal. I really want to thank everyone at INDYCAR Safety, INDYCAR Medical and IU Health for their great care. Also, to Jim Leo with PitFit Training for helping with the rehabilitation, and of course a big thanks to E.J. (Viso) and the team for all the hard work during practice. The car looks fast and I can’t wait to get out there and get up to speed.”
And here was Hinch’s tweet of thanks:
Vacation over, back to work! So happy to be cleared to drive. Big thanks to @EJVISO for getting things sorted on the @ufd_racing buggy.
— James Hinchcliffe (@Hinchtown) May 15, 2014
Viso has filled in during the week, totaling 250 laps, and ended Tuesday’s truncated day of practice fastest.
Viso was hoping to get some laps back in later Thursday if the team put a new engine in the No. 27 car, and that could still be possible.
Alternatively, and more likely, the team could make the change back to prep the No. 27 for Hinchcliffe.
Viso said he had no idea as to whether the team would be able to put together a sixth car for him, and while backup chassis are available, Andretti’s already stretched with five IndyCars this month.
Plus, an engine lease would be Honda’s 19th, something Honda has not signed off on beyond the 18 they already have allotted this month.
Put this way – Viso has done the job he’s been asked to do, and it’s doubtful we’ll see a sixth car emerge from the stable to see him return to the track.