The good news about Verizon IndyCar driver, Mikhail Aleshin, is that he survived Friday’s night accident in Final Practice at Auto Club speedway before, considering how horrific it looked. The young Russian driver destroyed his No.7 SMP Racing Honda. He spun out down low, perhaps to avoid Scott Dixon No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet, who was pitting. Aleshin spun up the track where he was unavoidably collected by Charlie Kimball No.83 NovoLog FlexPen Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
Kimball was checked at the Infield Care Center post-accident, and cleared to drive.
Aleshin was air-lifted to Loma Linda Medical Center after the accident, where he was admitted, listed in serious but stable condition. INDYCAR Medical Consultant, Dr. Terry Trammell, updated Aleshin’s medical condition. Aleshin was diagnosed with fractured ribs, a broken right clavicle, a concussion and chest injuries. He was admitted to the hospital and listed in serious but stable condition.
Sunday afternoon Pastor Bob Hills, Director of IndyCar Ministry, said in Chapel that Aleshin had undergone surgery for shoulder and chest injuries. Aleshin had planned to return to Russia Friday, but his hospital stay will preclude that trip for now.
NOTE: After this column was written and about to be sent, another update came from Dr. Trammell, advised that Aleshin’s condition was upgraded to stable, following a procedure for a chest injury. Aleshin will remain hospitalized while he recovers from the procedure.
Aleshin’s car was a bucket of bolts, a scrap heap. Both his front wheels came off and through the fence. The tub was speared by Kimball.
Kimball’s car sustained an impact higher than the failure load, but the front was messed up. The Ganassi crew went to work after the accident to prepare the T or backup car for Kimball. The car drove in the Saturday afternoon Systems Check, which is just what it sounds for each team who can send out a car. According to the Scrutineers, Kimball’s car underwent a safety check before the track Systems Check. Afterwards, Kimball’s car underwent the full tech inspection. All the teams can exercise a voluntary option to bring their cars to Tech Inspection, but it is up to the teams to ensure the car is legal.
Other teams also brought cars through Tech, including pole sitter Helio Castroneves No.3 AAA Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet, Marco Andretti No.25 Snapple Andretti Autosport Honda, and Aleshin’s teammate, Simon Pagenaud No.77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda. Pagenaud has a mathematical chance to win the title championship Saturday evening, but it would mean a lot of things would have to occur to the top two contenders – points leader Will Power No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and Castroneves.
Andretti wasn’t directly involved in the Friday night accident, but he did run into a lot of debris, causing damage. No other drivers seem to have been involved in the accident.
Auto Club Speedway replaced one 25 foot wide safety fence panel. Everything else was intact. The fencing is standard for all ISC (International Speedway Corporation) race tracks. Everything needed for the repair was already on site. Eighteen track Operations Crew members worked for six hours repairing the fence. And is the case with all such repairs, IndyCar was “thoroughly engaged in the process.”
The Official Starting Line Up for the MAVTV 500 race was released, and it shows that Kimball and Andretti retained their original starting positions – P6 for Kimball, who went to a backup car, and P18 for Andretti, who repaired his damaged car. Aleshin’s SMP team will not run another driver in its backup (Sonoma Raceway) car. Ryan Hunter-Reay No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda, who qualified P9, will move into P8, Aleshin’s qualifying position. This will mean 21 drivers, seven rows of three for the Starting Grid.
Posting of this column was delayed awaiting clarification of the Starting Line Up procedures.