(Fort Worth, TX) - Mauricio Gugelmin, driver of the ...
(Fort Worth, TX) - Mauricio Gugelmin, driver of the #17 Nextel PacWest Toyota, returned to the track Saturday after being involved in a major accident during practice Friday at the Texas Motor Speedway in preparation for round three of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Gugelmin did not participate in Saturday morning's practice session and it is unknown at this time whether the popular Brazilian will compete in what would be his 131st consecutive CART race on Sunday.
Gugelmin, President of the Championship Drivers Association, was in the final minute of the day's last practice session when the rear of his machine got loose on exit of turn two and turned Gugelmin into a passenger in his own car. He contacted the inside retaining wall - nose first - at 66.2 G's and ricocheted down the back straight. Six seconds after his initial impact, Gugelmin hit the outside wall for the first time - this time with the rear of his car and a force of 113.1 G's.
When the car finally came to rest in the apex between turns three and four, the car had sustained major damage.
MEDICAL UPDATE: DR. STEVE OLVEY, CART DIRECTOR OF MEDICAL AFFAIRS:
"PacWest Racing Group driver Mauricio Gugelmin was awake and alert at the scene of the accident," said Olvey. "Gugelmin sustained minor bruising from the seat belts and helmet strap and there are no apparent injuries at this time. He will remain at the CART Mobil Medical Unit for physical therapy and observation and will be released later this afternoon."
Since Gugelmin was not rendered unconscious from the incident, he remains eligible to compete for the remainder of the weekend. Per CART rules, should a driver be rendered unconscious he is ineligible to compete for the remainder of the race weekend.
MEDICAL UPDATE #2: DR. STEVE OLVEY
"For precautionary purposes, Mauricio Gugelmin has been transported to North Richland Hills Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas for x-rays."
Upon further evaluation and x-rays, Gugelmin was released from the hospital Friday evening with no major injuries to report. The x-rays all came back negative, and his official diagnosis was severe muscle strain in several areas. Aside from being stiff and sore, Gugelmin left the hospital under his own power.
MAURICIO GUGELMIN - #17 NEXTEL PACWEST TOYOTA:
"I had been running a few laps behind one other car on the circuit, and with a short time left in the session I could feel a slight turn from the rear of my car coming out of turn two," said Gugelmin. "I was able to correct the first twitch, but then the end came around again and I lost it. I remember heading toward the wall, and the next thing I remember is letting go of the wheel and I became a passenger. Then when I finally stopped, I could see daylight by my feet and Dr. Trammell greeting me at my car."
"This was a negative situation (the accident) that ended up to be a positive considering the magnitude of the impact," Gugelmin continued. "I'm glad nothing bad happened, but my walking away from this impact is a testimony to just how seriously CART takes the safety issue. The CART medical team is the best in the business, and they were on my car literally as I came to a stop. Being able to see a familiar face such as Dr. Trammell's after an accident has a really calming effect on a driver. I didn't plan on being the test driver for HANS (the head and neck support system that CART has mandated it's drivers to wear on ovals) but I'm definitely glad I had it. I can't say enough about that device because I truly believe it saved me from a much more serious injury because I basically had two major crashes at once."
BRUCE R. MCCAW: PACWEST RACING GROUP - PRESIDENT:
"In spite of the fact that Mauricio had two major hits, one forward and one from the rear with very high G-forces in both, it has to be a real testament to the safety efforts in the CART series," said McCaw. "Everything worked as it's supposed to, from the chassis absorbing such tremendous energy to all of the driver protection measures. The HANS device, which clearly proved itself in this situation, worked just as it was designed to and the energy absorbent cockpit surfaces and the seat provided additional safety measures. They all worked exactly as intended."
"I would like to acknowledge and thank the CART Safety team, particularly Dr. Steve Olvey and Dr. Terry Trammell. They do a tremendous job for this series and we are very fortunate to have such a quality and caring group of individuals associated with CART and on hand for each of our 21 events," McCaw continued. "It is unlikely that Mauricio will race on Sunday, but we are very thankful that he did not receive any significant injuries."