IRL: Manning sits out finale

The field for this Sunday's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season finale has been reduced by one, as Darren Manning intends to sit out the Chevy 500 on Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile high banked oval after sustaining a slight concussion and ...

The field for this Sunday's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season finale has been reduced by one, as Darren Manning intends to sit out the Chevy 500 on Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile high banked oval after sustaining a slight concussion and severe mid-back contusions at California Speedway little more than a week ago.

Meeting with Indy Racing League physician Dr. Terry Trammell on Monday, Manning was told the minor compression fracture of his sixth and seventh thoracic vertebrae was not serious and is healing quickly. Trammell suggested, however, that in order to guarantee a fast and complete recovery, the Briton first-year IndyCar Series competitor should stand down from his #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone entry to avoid chance of a high speed rear impact for a period of two more weeks.

Manning was injured in qualifying for the Toyota Indy 400 on the 2-mile superspeedway, a track he said he was looking forward to driving. The car came around on him on the second of two flying laps and Manning was required to sit out the race.

"Darren has a full range of movement and very little discomfort," Trammell stated, "but given the physical demands and high speeds experienced in this sport, it is my opinion that he should sit this one out and give it a chance to heal completely for a three-week period."

It's a big disappointment for Manning, recently confirmed as a returnee to the 2003 championship-winning team for 2005. He finished eighth in his first visit to Texas Motor Speedway and was looking forward to bettering that result this weekend.

Missing the final two races of the 16-event campaign is "a shame to end the season in this manner," Manning said. "I really feel good, but I will certainly abide by the doctor's recommendations. I have learned and gained a vast amount of experience from the Target team and we improved steadily throughout the year," he declared.

"I feel badly for my crew, who have worked so hard this year and we all would have liked to have had a chance to end the season on a better note," Manning continued. "It's a bit of a letdown, but at the same time, I know I have a lot to look forward to as the team prepares for the 2005 IndyCar Series season."

Team Target owner Chip Ganassi is pleased with Manning's initial IRL season. "Darren Manning has already proved this season that he has the talent and drive we expected from him. Target Chip Ganassi Racing has the utmost confidence in his abilities and we are very much looking forward to having a very strong 2005 season with him as driver of the #10 Target Panoz G Force/Toyota.

"We will not be putting another driver in the car in his place for this race," Ganassi declared, "as we feel it is unnecessary. Darren has nothing more to prove this year and we would certainly not want to take any undue risks with his health. Instead, we will concentrate on the task at hand and help Scott Dixon and the #1 Target car finish the season on a high note for the entire Target team," Ganassi explained.

Manning isn't going to lollygag during the Chevy 500 weekend that brings the 2004 IndyCar Series season to a close, however. He's been invited to take part in the live ABC telecast from Texas Motor Speedway with hosts Paul Page, Scott Goodyear and Jack Arute, adding some of his personal insight and commentary from the Target pits during the race.

Viewers will have the opportunity to enjoy the Briton's lively sense of humor and his ability to augment the broadcast with technical factoids during the telecast. Even without starting the Toyota Indy 400, Manning maintained 11th place in the point chase, with 12th-placed A.J. Foyt IV a full 29 points back.

The season-ending Chevy Indy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is set to take the green flags at 12:30PM EDT and is shown live on ABC TV.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Scott Goodyear , A.J. Foyt IV , Scott Dixon , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing