Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) – James Hinchcliffe suffered an injury to his upper left thigh and underwent surgery at IU Health Methodist Hospital after he was involved in a major wreck during practice for the Indianapolis 500 on Monday.
Less than an hour after the start of the practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hinchcliffe, the driver of the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, shot up the track and slammed hard right-side into SAFER barrier in turn 3. The car then spun down the track and briefly rolled on to its side before it landed back down on its wheel and came to rest.
It appeared that Hinchcliffe experienced a mechanical problem with his car just before hitting the barrier.
Hinchcliffe was awake and alert when safety workers arrived on the scene. He needed assistance from the workers while getting out of his heavily damaged car. The 28-year-old Toronto native was placed on a backboard and transported to the hospital.
His accident is the fifth major one at this famed 2.5-mile oval within a week, as teams are preparing for the 99th running of the Indy 500 on May 24. Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter were involved in spectacular crashes, in which their cars went airborne. Pippa Mann spun out while exiting turn 4 and made hard contact with the inside wall along the frontstretch. Neither Castroneves, Newgarden, Carpenter nor Mann were injured in their incidents.
After Carpenter’s accident in Sunday morning’s practice session, IndyCar officials made revisions to the cars and the Indy 500 qualifying format. The aerodynamic bodywork package for the Chevrolet and Honda cars had been changed, with teams using the same package for qualifying that will be used for the race. The engine horsepower was also reduced, meaning speeds were lower for qualifying than they had been in practice. This past Saturday, Castroneves recorded the fastest lap here this month at 233.474 mph. No points were awarded for qualifying.
Hinchcliffe qualified 24th — the outside of row 8 — for the Indy 500 on Sunday. He had completed 22 laps, with his best lap recorded at 223.916 mph, before his wreck occurred in the Monday practice session. After more than two hours of track repairs, IndyCar officials called off the remainder of the session. Simon Pagenaud from Team Penske topped the charts with a lap at 225.260 mph.
Hinchcliffe won the inaugural IndyCar race at NOLA Motorsports Park, located outside of New Orleans, on April 12, in just his second start with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
When IndyCar held its first race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 10, 2014, Hinchcliffe suffered a concussion when he was hit in the head by debris late in the event. He was medically cleared to return to racing five days later.
IndyCar: James Hinchcliffe Medical Update
INDIANAPOLIS – Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR medical director:
Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe underwent surgery May 18 at IU Health Methodist Hospital for an injury to his upper left thigh. He has been transferred to the Intensive Care Unit and remains in stable condition.
“Obviously we’re relieved that James is awake and out of surgery,” said Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team owner Sam Schmidt. “That’s the most important thing on our minds right now and we will do absolutely everything required to ensure a complete recovery.”
Additional updates to Hinchcliffe’s condition will be released when available