The good news from Infineon Raceway Saturday morning during the 90-minute Indy Racing League Indy Car practice is that two drivers (WILL POWER/Penske Racing and Rookie NELSON PHILIPPE/Conquest Racing) involved in an on-track accident are awake and alert. The bad news is that both drivers had to be transported to Santa Rosa Memorial hospital and both had a concussion. The latest medical update from DR MICHAEL OLINGER, IRL director of medical services: Power was transported (by helicopter) complaining of back pain. Philippe went by ambulance with a left foot injury.
The accident occurred 41 minutes into the session. Ten minutes earlier Philippe spun going into Turn Four, knocking down the braking point marker. He was restarted and continued. Then he spun again and stalled over the crest of Turn Three (same spot) in basically a blind spot for oncoming traffic. Philippe’s i drive green car was in the line, nose on the track.
E.J. VISO/HVM Racing came up and over the hill, clipping the nose of Philippe’s car. Viso continued, albeit with some injuries to his car.
Power came up and over the hill full tilt in his bright yellow No.12, in the line and hit Philippe full on, causing him to spin and debris from both cars go flying.
At the same time in an unrelated incident, DAN WHELDON/Panther Racing hit the Turn Ten wall and continued.
The session was extended ten minutes.
In the garage, Penske Racing has already started working on the (black) backup car.
Just yesterday the three drivers in the informal press conference, MARIO MORAES/KV Racing Technology, Rookie MIKE CONWAY/Dreyer & Reinbold, and DARIO FRANCHITTI/Target Chip Ganassi Racing, all said the most difficult part of racing at Infineon was the blind curves in Turns Two and Three.
Franchitti was the fastest driver of the 24 Indy Cars, at 01:17.2196/107.367 mph. Moraes was tenth fastest, Power was sixteenth, Viso was twentieth, and Philippe was twenty-third.
Qualifying is at 2:30 PM local time.