HICKORY, N.C. (December 3, 1999) -- Anthony Lazzaro, having sufficiently recovered from a compression fracture of his T3 vertebra sustained in an ARCA race accident at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Oct. 16, climbed back into the cockpit of his # 97 McDonald's Ford Busch car for a PPI Motorsports test session yesterday. The team completed 31 miles on Hickory Motor Speedway's 3/8-mile oval in Hickory, N.C., and bettered their previous time at the track (set while testing in September) by nearly two-tenths of a second. Lazzaro is the reigning CART Toyota Atlantic Champion.
"We had just a great day," Lazzaro said following the test. "We had a brand new car, the second car built at the PPI Motorsports shop, and it ran awesome. On our second run, we put up a time quicker than we'd ever done at Hickory and it stayed that way. We were fast all day. We weren't trying to do that, but it was icing on the cake."
After his injury was diagnosed, Lazzaro was required to refrain from strenuous activity (including driving) for approximately six weeks. Following a brief rest period, Lazzaro maintained a strict workout regimen to assist his recovery and prepare him for his return to driving duties. His swift recuperation is in part due to his determination to get back behind the wheel.
"I am so happy," Lazzaro beamed. "I didn't forget how to drive, and everybody was pumped up. We ran without a hitch and didn't miss a beat all day.
"I feel great, and my back feels fine," Lazzaro continued. "It just felt so good to get back behind the wheel and start working with my guys again. I can't wait to do it again."
With yesterday's successful shakedown run, the McDonald's Racing/PPI Motorsports Busch team has officially resumed full-time winter testing.