Santino Ferrucci released from hospital after Indy 500 practice crash; cleared to return


INDIANAPOLIS — Santino Ferrucci was involved in the first major crash of Indy 500 practice Thursday and needed help getting to a safety vehicle after suffering a minor injury during the hard impact in Turn 2.

Ferrucci was later evaluated and released from IU Health Methodist Hospital. IndyCar announced Friday morning that he was cleared to drive.

“I’m a little sore but happy to be here at IMS,” Ferrucci said. “The guys are working overly hard to make sure our Hy-Vee Honda is back on track and it’s going to be really quick.”

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver backed his No. 45 Dallara-Honda into the SAFER barrier in Turn 2 with a hour of 45 minutes remaining in a six-hour session.

After IndyCar AMR safety team workers needed a few minutes to extricate Ferrucci from his car, he was unable to put weight on his left leg outside the cockpit. He was carried to the waiting safety truck for a ride to the infield care center.

“It was your typical Turn 2 situation where the car gets a gust of wind and goes without warning,” Ferrucci said.

Dr. Geoffrey Billows, the medical director at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said “Santino’s fine,” but the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital for further evaluation.

“He just has a minor injury on his left leg,” Dr. Billows told NBC Sports reporter Dillon Welch during practice coverage on Peacock. “We’re just sending him downtown for some advanced imaging. He’s able to bear weight. He’s conscious and alert. No really significant injuries.”

Asked whether Ferrucci would be cleared to return for practice Friday, Dr. Billows said, “I would think so, but it’s going to depend upon the rest of the evaluation.”

A statement from IndyCar later clarified that Ferrucci was undergoing further evaluation of his left foot.

Ferrucci had turned the third-fastest lap Thursday before the crash, which was the first over nearly three days of Indianapolis 500 practice for the May 30 race (11 a.m. ET, NBC) on the 2.5-mile oval.

The track returned to green 15 minutes after Ferrucci’s crash with 90 minutes left in practice for Thursday.

The session began at noon with nearly a massive crash as Colton Herta narrowly avoided disaster by brushing the outside wall in Turn 4 and then making light contact with Scott McLaughlin.

Herta angrily blamed the incident on Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, which seemingly was arranging a low-speed photo of drivers Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato and Ferrucci crossing the Yard of Bricks finish line.

IndyCar officials later penalized the Rahal drivers, announcing they’d be held from the first 30 minutes of practice Friday.

Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens later tweeted about the possibility of racing the Indy 500 and said his goal was “always to get back to the top level of motorsport” whether it’s IndyCar or IMSA.

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.