Danica runs over crewman on pit lane in Indy practice accident
INDIANAPOLIS -- IndyCar racing's biggest name was emotionally shaken Friday as Danica Patrick was involved in an incident on pit lane during Friday's practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when her car hit a crew member from another team in pit lane.
Patrick, who gained fame as the first female driver ever to win in a major close-course racing series when the IndyCar driver drove to victory at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 19, came into the pits and hit Charles (Chuck) Buckman, the chief mechanic for Brazilian driver Mario Moraes at Dale Coyne Racing.
According to Dr. Mike Ollinger, the director of Medical Affairs for the Indy Racing League, Buckman suffered a concussion along with scalp and facial lacerations. He was transported to Methodist Hospital for treatment where he is being held overnight.
"I really don't remember how it happened," Buckman said. "All I remember is I was talking with someone on Marco Andretti's team and then everything is blank from that point.
"I will be OK and hopefully back to work in a day or two."
Sources in Gasoline Alley indicated Patrick and some of her crew members were distraught after the incident, which threw the crew member over her car before he went face down to the ground.
"It's really, really unfortunate what happened today," Patrick said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. Hopefully he can get back to the track soon and do what he loves."
Patrick would not accept any questions after making her statement and Andretti Green Racing team members said they would not take any further questions on the incident "in the days to come."
Her teammate, Marco Andretti, commented on how congested pit area was during Friday's practice session after he was second quickest during Friday's session at 226.710 miles per hour. Scott Dixon was the fastest at 225.968 mph.
Andretti had a clear view of what happened.
"It's a dangerous situation; a crowded pit lane, a lot going on," Andretti said. "You don't like to see that kind of thing but it's not Danica's fault. Stuff happens. Racing is dangerous. We're very concerned and hopefully it will turn out good."
Friday's practice was called because of rain at 3:53 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. It was scheduled to run until 6 p.m. It was the first practice held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the last two days were complete washouts.
Because of that, when the track went green at 12 noon there was a significant amount of traffic trying to get up to speed before Saturday's Pole Day for the 92nd Indianapolis 500. With lots of traffic on pit lane and pedestrian traffic behind the pits, it made for a congested situation.
"He was actually walking down pit lane (running an errand) down by the Andretti Green pits," said Dale Coyne Racing chief mechanic Mitch Davis. "The Green guys said he was walking along, looked back at Marco Andretti, stepped to the right and when he did he stepped right in front of her. He was going back to the garage to get something.
"Danica's team is torn up."