IndyCar: Pocono race resumes after bad crash puts Robert Wickens in hospital

Leave a comment

UPDATE 6 (4:30 p.m. ET): After a roughly two-hour red flag race stoppage, the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway has resumed on Lap 13 of the scheduled 200-lap event.

UPDATE 5 (4:24 p.m. ET): Engines have refired and drivers have begun driving back onto the racetrack. IndyCar Race Control said there will be four laps around the track before the green flag falls again for the third time today. Alexander Rossi is scored in the lead, followed by Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Zach Veach, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter and Marco Andretti.

UPDATE 4 (4:20 p.m. ET): Drivers have climbed back in their cars. The race is expected to restart in the next 5-10 minutes, according to IndyCar Race Control.

UPDATE 3 (3:05 p.m. ET): According to a report, James Hinchcliffe has apparently left the racetrack and is headed to the hospital to be with Robert Wickens, his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate and best friend. Hinchcliffe declined to be interviewed on NBCSN about the circumstances of the crash that involved Wickens, Hinchcliffe and three other drivers.

UPDATE 2 (2:53 p.m. ET): IndyCar officials say the repairs to the catchfence will take at least another 30 minutes. Also, James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Pietro Fittipaldi have all been cleared and released from the infield medical care center.

UPDATE 1 (3:20 p.m. ET): Curt Cavin, IndyCar Vice President of Communications, has spoken to media and said this:

“Robert Wickens was awake and alert when he came here (infield medical center) and is being transported to Lehigh Valley Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown (Pa.) for evaluation. We’ll have more updates later. That’s where we stand.”

Original story follows:

A major crash involving Robert Wickens, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato and Pietro Fittipaldi has caused a stoppage of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Contact was made on Lap 8 of the scheduled 200 laps when, shortly after a restart and coming out of Turn 2, Wickens and Hunter-Reay touched wheels. Wickens’ car climbed and went up into the fence and spun several times in mid-air before coming to rest against the inside retaining wall.

Hinchcliffe then hit Wickens’ car as it came back onto the track.

It took safety crews about 12 minutes to extricate Wickens from his damaged vehicle. He was then taken by ambulance and transported into the infield care center in the paddock area, where he subsequently was put into a helicopter to take him to a local hospital.

The fence incurred major damage that will take a lengthy period of time — IndyCar officials said it will take at least an hour in duration — and rain is approaching the area, as well.

Hinchcliffe exited his car under his own power but was seen holding his wrists and walking gingerly to a safety vehicle.

Fittipaldi appeared uninjured, as did Hunter-Reay and Sato.

“I’m okay, just thinking about Robert,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN. “It’s unfortunate but I just hope Robert is okay. I started pulling ahead and once we got to (Turn) 2 … I thought I had got past him.”

Added Sato to NBCSN, “It’s just unfortunate. My helmet was completely covered in oil and I couldn’t see anything. … It’s just a real pity.”

“He’s fine, he didn’t hit that hard,” team owner Michael Andretti said of Hunter-Reay to NBCSN. “I think Robert should have backed out of it. He was only halfway on Ryan’s side. … He was in Ryan’s blind spot so Ryan didn’t see him.”

It was the second wreck of the race. Graham Rahal and Spencer Pigot tangled as the field was coming to the green flag start of the race. The ensuing clean-up took seven laps to clean.

Several fellow race car drivers and fans took to social media out of concern for Wickens:

We’ll continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

 

Follow @JerryBonkowski

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

1 Comment

The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter