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.”

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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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IMSA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration: Why Sebring is so special to Bobby Rahal

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Bobby Rahal has driven in some of the biggest races in the world, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 Hours and, of course, winning the Indianapolis 500 as a driver in 1986 and in 2004 as a team owner.

But winning the 12 Hours of Sebring two years in a row (1987 and 1988), Rahal feels, is right up there in terms of his greatest accomplishments as a race car driver.

As IMSA celebrates its 50th anniversary, Rahal reflected on what racing at Sebring International Raceway has meant to him:

“To me, Sebring is the ultimate endurance race. Not as long as Daytona or Le Mans, but the demands put on a car and driver at Sebring are highly unusual.

“My father raced at Sebring in the late 60’s. To win that race two years in a row really meant something to me.

“While we’ve won a lot of other races, we’ve won just about everywhere, you name it. But for me personally, winning at Sebring those two years in a row was very special.”

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