Saavedra Back At Work After Ugly Traffic Incident

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 14 2014

Sebastian Saavedra was back in the Indy garages and wearing a smile on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

Rookie Sebastian Saavedra got “back to business” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Tuesday, logging seven laps before practice for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 was curtailed by rain.

The shortened session was significant for Saavedra, who returned to the cockpit after avoiding what could have been tragic consequences at the start of Saturday’s inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis road-course race.

Pole-sitter for the 82-lap event, Saavedra was uninjured after being involved in a multi-car incident at the standing start. Saavedra’s stalled No. 17 KV AFS Racing Dallara/Chevrolet initially was clipped in the left rear by Carlos Munoz and then by fellow-Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Mikhail Aleshin from the back of the scrambling pack.

“It feels like somebody has given me a kidney punch; I’m stiff but OK,” Saavedra, a 23-year-old native of Bogota, Colombia, said after making is IMS oval debut. “I just wanted to get out there. Kudos to all my boys who had a couple of long days to put it together. She’s looking amazing.”

E.J. Viso, filling-in for the injured James Hinchcliffe in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Dallara/Honda for the third consecutive day, topped Tuesday’s speed chart with a lap at 40.0912-seconds/224.488 mph around the 2.5-mile oval.

“I’m not concerned with the laps really,” said Saavedra, who qualified for his first Indy 500 in 2010 at age 19. “As long as we maintain the program we have we should be good. A.J. Foyt says there’s plenty of time, breathe it, enjoy it.”

Saavedra joined 29 other drivers who totaled 1,024 miles without incident. Rain began falling at 1:31 p.m. and remaining track activity was cancelled at 2:47 p.m.

“It was good mentally for him (Saavedra) and the whole team,” said Al Unser Jr., a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who is serving as driver coach for the four-car KV Racing Technology stable this month. “The crew on this team has done a fantastic job getting the car together. They started (Sunday, Opening Day of Indy 500 practice) with the car down to the tub and built from there. It was a great achievement and important for Sebastian to get out there.”

Thirty-one drivers have registered 4,041 miles of practice since Sunday. Ambient temperature Tuesday was 79 degrees for the start of practice at noon. Track temperature was 104 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe remained sidelined from practice after suffering a concussion during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Hinchcliffe was evaluated Tuesday by the INDYCAR medical team in conjunction with its neurosurgical consultant. INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger reported Hinchcliffe is progressing and has been cleared to begin light training with his athletic trainer. But Hinchcliffe, who was struck in the helmet by a piece of flying debris on Lap 56, has not been cleared to resume driving duties. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 14 2014
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