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Robert Wickens ‘pretty inspiring’ to IndyCar drivers

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AUSTIN, Texas — IndyCar drivers are watching Robert Wickens’ determined recovery from a horrific crash last season and cheering him on in hopes he will be able to return to racing.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash last August at Pocono Raceway. He has been updating his recovery with videos on social media during his rehabilitation. Wickens has vowed to return to racing.

“I firmly believe he will do it,” said James Hinchcliffe, Wickens’ Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsport teammate and a fellow Canadian. “He’s driven as all get-out. He’s pushing himself harder than he probably should be. We are excited to see him back on the racetrack as soon as possible.”

Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has a two-car driver lineup this season with Hinchcliffe and new driver Marcus Ericsson, though the team has made it clear a seat is available should Wickens return this season.

Wickens’ car sailed into the fence at Pocono and he suffered a thoracic spinal fracture, spinal cord injury, neck fracture, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs, fractures in both hands, a fractured right forearm, a fractured elbow, four fractured ribs and a pulmonary contusion.

“There’s a lot of unknowns but he’s giving it his best shot and that’s pretty inspiring,” Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais said Monday at IndyCar media day. The entire 2019 IndyCar season will be broadcast on the networks on NBC, including the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe survived a violent crash in 2015 when he was impaled by a piece of his car’s suspension when his car broke apart in a practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He said that crash and Wickens’ crash never made him second-guess his decision to race.

“We’re wired differently. We’re wired wrong. It never once made me pause and consider my own career,” Hinchcliffe said.

Hildebrand enters Indy 500 with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

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INDIANAPOLIS — J.R. Hildebrand will race in the Indianapolis 500 with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in a second entry dedicated to the late Dan Gurney.

Hildebrand will pilot the No. 48 as a nod to the number used by Gurney, a racer, car builder and team owner who died in 2018. Hildebrand will be teammates with Sage Karam and his car will be sponsored by Salesforce.com.

Hildebrand has eight previous Indy 500 starts and was leading on the final lap as a rookie in 2011 when he crashed in the final turn. Dan Wheldon slipped past for the victory and Hildebrand finished second.

Hildebrand also drove for DRR last season.

DRR is also fielding the #24 Chevrolet in this year’s Indy 500 for Sage Karam.