IndyCarRobert Wickens, left, and teammate James Hinchcliffe attend a pre-race autograph session prior to Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway. Photo:

IndyCar: Robert Wickens recovering from spinal cord surgery; severity of injury uncertain

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Verizon IndyCar Series driver Robert Wickens is recovering from successful spinal surgery performed Monday evening in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

A team of doctors at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest operated on Wickens to stabilize a thoracic spinal fracture associated with a spinal cord injury, according to a statement released this morning by IndyCar officials.

Titanium rods and screws were successfully placed in Wickens’ spine during the surgery.

However, according to the IndyCar statement, “the severity of the spinal cord injury is indeterminate at this time.”

The statement added, “Wickens is expected to undergo further surgeries to treat fractures in his lower extremities and right forearm. He remains in stable condition.”

MORE: Injured IndyCar driver Robert Wickens to undergo spinal surgery tonight

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Wickens was injured in a high-speed crash during the early stages of Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. Wickens’ car touched wheels with the car of fellow competitor Ryan Hunter-Reay, sending Wickens’ car airborne and into the catchfence at the end of Turn 2.

Wickens’ car then spun several times in mid-air before landing on the racetrack and eventually coming to rest along the inside retaining wall.

It took rescue workers more than 12 minutes to carefully extricate Wickens from the mangled vehicle. He was immediately transported via helicopter to Lehigh Valley Hospital– Cedar Crest, about 45 minutes away from Pocono Raceway.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver is in his rookie season on the IndyCar circuit after a lengthy racing career in Europe.

Here is the full update statement from IndyCar:

Medical update on Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018) – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens underwent surgery Monday, Aug. 20 at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest to stabilize a thoracic spinal fracture associated with a spinal cord injury sustained during the INDYCAR event at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, Aug. 19.

“Titanium rods and screws were placed successfully in Wickens’ spine during the surgery, which was performed without complication.

“The severity of the spinal cord injury is indeterminate at this time.

“Wickens is expected to undergo further surgeries to treat fractures in his lower extremities and right forearm. He remains in stable condition.

“Further updates will be provided when available.”

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen takes pole at Brazilian GP

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has taken pole position for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

It’s the second career pole for the Dutch driver, who beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by just 0.123 seconds.

Verstappen’s first pole was earlier this season at the Hungarian GP in August.

Six-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes will start from third position. The 2018 winner at Interlagos finished 0.191 seconds back.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Alexander Albon finished in fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

Hamilton was fastest in final practice earlier Saturday, 0.026 quicker than Verstappen.

The Brazilian GP on Sunday is the penultimate race of the season. Hamilton secured the season title, his sixth, in the previous race in the U.S.