Jimmie Johnson OK after second Long Beach crash; still plans to race with fractured hand

Jimmie Johnson injury IndyCar
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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LONG BEACH, California – Jimmie Johnson still plans to drive in Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach despite an injury to his right hand and another practice wreck Saturday.

Driving with a small splint to mobilize the ring and pinky fingers on his fractured right hand, Johnson slid into a tire barrier with 12 minutes remaining in the morning session.

Johnson said he felt no pain in the No. 48 Dallara-Honda cockpit and still plans to qualify and race in his hometown race. A care center X-ray showed his bones were more aligned, which Johnson credited to a splint built by Dr. Terry Trammell.

“I had no pain really on track,” said Johnson, who had set a personal-best time the lap before his incident. “Felt great. Just trying to go too fast into the turn 1 and ran into the tires. I’m more disappointed in myself making a mistake and tearing up the car again, but from an injury standpoint, I feel pretty good.

“Just I hate making mistakes, and I made two of them. I feel really good about (Sunday’s race). Still qualifying today and get through all that, but all indications right now are favorable. I feel great in the car. I don’t have a full grip going, but Terry Trammell is amazing. He knew exactly what to build, how to build it, where to position it. Great communication with him working on the splint.”

Blair Julian, the No. 48 engineer, told Speed Sport News that Johnson “was actually feeling pretty good and pretty comfortable trying to get a feel for a long run on the (softer compound tires). He got pushing there and ended up in a bad spot. It seems like the hand is doing OK.

PRACTICE SPEEDS: Session II l Session I and II combined

“We’ll go back, put it back together and try again. You know these guys. He’s a competitor and will be pushing as hard as he can. His hand will hurt on Monday, but he will endure on Sunday. He’s a tough guy.”

Johnson arrived at 6 a.m. Saturday to ensure the splint worked well. He forgot about the injury while turning laps.

“You notice it more sitting still,” he said. “On the track, iit just faded away on my end.”

Johnson sustained the injury during an IndyCar practice accident Friday afternoon.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver’s right hand was hit by the steering wheel as it snapped around after his No. 48 Dallara-Honda made head-on contact with a tire barrier in Turn 5 during a Friday afternoon session for his hometown IndyCar race.

“I let go” of the wheel, Johnson said. “I didn’t get them far enough out of the way. So I let go, and then with the impact, I guess my hands moved into the pathway of the wheel spinning and the bottom of the wheel.

In a Twitter video Saturday morning, Johnson confirmed the fracture.

“It’s really just take it how it comes from here,” Johnson said. “Again, working with the team to make sure my cockpit is as comfortable as it can be. I feel very good about things now and am willing to try practice, but I really won’t know until I’m out there in the practice session and feel the demands of the race car to know if I can go further and into the race.”

After missing the post-practice autograph session that is mandatory for IndyCar drivers, Johnson appeared wearing a splint (with his ring and pinky fingers immobilized) in a video posted to Twitter.

“Hey everybody, as you can see, I’m a little banged up here and have a splint on,” Johnson said. “First and foremost apologies to the fans at the autograph session I wasn’t able to attend. Clearly, I’ve got something else going on here.

“I’m on my way to be further evaluated just to get a good honest look and understand what my options are. I really don’t have any clarity at this point. And I look forward to updating you all very soon.”

If Johnson needed an injury substitute, an obvious candidate would be three-time Long Beach winner Sebastien Bourdais, who won the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole position (breaking the track record by nearly 2 seconds) on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course in Ganassi’s No. 01 Cadillac.

“I heard about it just jumping out of the car because Jimmie posted a video,” said Bourdais, who moved into racing full time in IMSA this season after nearly 20 years in IndyCar. “I think he’s got to run some tests and see how he feels. If the team wants me to drive the car, obviously I’m contracted to the team.

“I’ll do whatever they want me to do, but they haven’t asked, and I don’t even think we’re there yet. I just really hope that he’s fine and can race this weekend because he’s obviously showing better pace, and you just don’t want to get setbacks and also hurt yourself. I’m sure he’s tough enough, and he’ll be fine.”

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach holds special meaning for Johnson. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion often who attended the race often as a kid and had key meetings that helped launch his racing career.

Johnson had an entourage of 80 on hand to watch him finish 17th in last year’s race, and he said Friday before practice that he had another full suite for Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET, NBC).

After running a partial schedule on road and street courses last year, Johnson is two races into his first full-time season in the IndyCar season and finished a career-best sixth in the March 20 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

That impressive performance in his IndyCar oval debut raised the anticipation for Johnson’s expected Indy 500 debut next month.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III