LONG POND, Pa. – Robert Wickens was transported to an area hospital Sunday following a violent crash in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.
Wickens was awake and alert when he was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa., after the massive crash on the first lap of racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series race. Team officials later confirmed he had been admitted to the hospital and was being treated for injuries to his lower extremities, right arm and spine. He also sustained a bruised lung, also known as a pulmonary contusion.
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Wickens were racing side-by-side into turn two at Pocono. Wickens tried to go underneath Hunter-Reay’s Honda, but as the turn closed up, the two cars made contact and that sent Wickens’ Honda airborne.
Wickens’ car went high into the catchfence in turn two, ripping down a large portion of the fencing. Wickens car burst into flames and began to rotate like a helicopter blade. It rotated four or five times before landing back on the track.
“I’m just thinking about Robert (Wickens) right now,” Hunter-Reay said after leaving the infield medical center. “I haven’t had any information yet. They’re just waiting for him to come back to the medical center. It’s unfortunate in the first half of the race. I just hope Robert is alright.
“[I’m] just lucky to get out of that one.
“We he had a run out of turn one, Robert came up along the side of me, but I was in the draft of (Will) Power in front of me, so I started pulling ahead. Once we got to (turn) two he was at my corner at best. I mean barely there.
“It was one of those corners you’re not up alongside, you know…its…yeah. First lap of the race. I mean I thought, at that point, I had got to him, cleared him. I even gave room. I left a lane; left a half of a lane, if not more. I’ve gotta look at it again. I was pretty shocked I got hit in the back. That is neither here nor there right now – we’re just thinking about Robert.
“It’s all very, very unfortunate.”
Five cars were involved in the crash and the race was red-flagged because of the damage to the fence. Other drivers involved included Wickens’ teammate at Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports, James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Pietro Fittipaldi of Dale Coyne Racing.
Hunter-Reay and Sato were quickly checked and released and cleared to drive. Hinchcliffe and Fittipaldi stayed in the infield care center for an extended period of time before both were released.
Wickens is close personal friends to his SPM teammate Hinchcliffe, as the two grew up near each other in the Toronto suburbs in Ontario.
“That’s not the race day we were hoping for,” Hinchcliffe said after he was released. “I saw the accident happening in front of me. (Zach) Veach started sliding up, I tried to slow down and just kind of lost it in the fray. As I was going backwards, I think Pietro (Fittipaldi) had nowhere to go and came into me.
“Other than that, there was a bunch of stuff going on, I’m not sure exactly what happened. I took my hands off the wheel when I went backwards, and I think some piece of debris came in as I was holding them (my hands) in, kind of just smacked the top of them so I took of bit of beating, but nothing is broken, just some swelling and some cuts. We’ll rest it up and be fine.
“Obviously, I’m just hoping Robbie’s (Robert Wickens) alright. It’s never good to see a car go up (into the fence) like that, but I know he is in good hands. Hopefully we’ll see him back in the car soon.”
Fittipaldi, who already has a left-leg fracture from a sports car crash in Belgium in May, complained of foot pain.
“I’m feeling great, Thank God, I’m a little sore from the broken bones, but no injuries,” Fittipaldi said upon his release. “With the debris and cold tires, I hit Hinch sideways. There was so much debris and fluid on the track, I just lost it.
“I’m looking forward to Gateway Motorsports Park next week.”
Wickens is a rookie driver at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and after a successful career in the German DTM Series for Mercedes-Benz, the 28-year-old driver from Guelph, Ontario, joined IndyCar.
He won the pole in his first ever Verizon IndyCar Series race in the March 11 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and appeared on his way to victory before he was involved in a crash with rival driver Alexander Rossi on a restart with two laps to go in the race. Despite leading five times for 69 laps, Wickens finished 18th in the race.
He entered Sunday’s race sixth in points, 114 behind the leader, Scott Dixon.