INDIANAPOLIS — Ruled out of racing indefinitely, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe thanked the "heroes" who helped him after his frightening crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his doctor said Monday that the accident had left the popular Canadian in critical condition.
There was never any doubt that Monday's accident was serious: Hinchcliffe was taken immediately to a local hospital for surgery on his left thigh and pelvic area and two sources familiar with the details told The Associated Press his leg had been pierced by the car's right front rocker. The surgery at Indiana University Methodist Hospital was needed to stop massive bleeding.
"He's stable and improving," said Dr. Timothy Pohlman, who performed the surgery at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital. "His condition was critical upon his arrival and I think the IndyCar system as a whole needs to be commended for how well they can take care of drivers in this situation."
"Words can't describe how thankful I am" to the on-track Holmatro safety team, Hinchcliffe said in a statement released by IndyCar. "Those guys, in addition to the doctors and staff at the hospital, are my heroes. I can't say enough how much I appreciate the outpouring of support from IndyCar fans, my family and fellow drivers. We are all one big family and it feels like that today."
Hinchcliffe lost a significant amount of blood, a person with knowledge of the injury told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the details have not been released by IndyCar or Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Honda said Hinchcliffe's right front suspension failed, and the driver was sent hard into the third turn wall during practice for Indianapolis 500. It was the fifth crash in a scary week, and IndyCar huddled with Honda and Chevrolet to determine whether new aerodynamic kits installed on the cars were causing problems ahead of its showcase race on Sunday. They eliminated the extra horsepower the cars were supposed to have for qualifying, which was also turned into a non-points chase.
Schmidt Peterson, meanwhile, is looking for a replacement driver for Sunday's race. Putting a new driver in the cockpit will force the car to start from the back of the 33-car field after Hinchcliffe qualified 24th, posting a four-lap average of 223.519 mph.
Crew members were working on tires in Hinchcliffe's garage Tuesday but did not have a car in the garage.
Possible candidates include Tristan Vautier, who qualified a car last weekend for Dale Coyne Racing's James Davison, and Katherine Legge, who has driven for team owner Sam Schmidt previously.
Legge was in town last weekend when she was announced as the driver for an all-female team that plans to compete in next year's 100th running of the Indy 500.