BUSCH: Anthony Lazzaro Returns in December

HAMPTON, Ga. (Nov. 18, 1999) Anthony Lazzaro was back at a race track Thursday and the driver who will race in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division in 2000 for Precision Preparation Inc. Motorsports could not have been wearing a wider...

HAMPTON, Ga. (Nov. 18, 1999) Anthony Lazzaro was back at a race track Thursday and the driver who will race in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division in 2000 for Precision Preparation Inc. Motorsports could not have been wearing a wider smile if it had been painted on.

The 33-year-old South Carolina native was at Atlanta Motor Speedway Thursday taking in the sights at pole qualifying for Saturday's Georgia Boot 400 ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series race. Lazzaro was on his way home from an appearance for PPI's NASCAR Winston Cup Series sponsor, Tide.

If not for a mishap a month ago, Lazzaro might have been a contender for the pole award on the fast 1.54-mile speedway.

Lazzaro's run for the 2000 NASCAR Busch Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award hit a speed bump when the 1999 Kool/Toyota Atlantic Series champion broke his neck at Talladega Superspeedway in a crash late in the Winn-Dixie 300 on Oct. 16. Lazzaro, who was racing in his first superspeedway stock-car race, was running in the top-5 when the multi-car accident broke out with less than 10 laps to go.

He finished 17th in Ohio car owner Stan Hover's Ford despite missing the final eight laps of the race. Lazzaro competed in the ARCA event to gain superspeedway stock car experience prior to his NASCAR Busch Series debut in the No. 97 McDonald's Ford at Daytona International Speedway next February.

A PPI Motorsports spokesperson on Thursday said Lazzaro's recovery from a compression fracture of his thoracic T3 vertebra was "right on target."

"Anthony is doing well and, needless to say, he was fired up about being there," said PPI spokesperson Amy Riley. "He just had his second visit with Dr. (Terry) Trammell and he said he was right on target to get back in a race car by mid-December."

Dr. Trammell, a noted Indianapolis orthopedic surgeon who specializes in motorsports injuries, indicated at the time of the injury that it would take approximately six weeks for Lazzaro's injury to heal properly and Riley confirmed that diagnosis was proving accurate.

"He was in a brace but not anymore," she said. "He has begun a light daily physical therapy regimen designed to get him back in shape to get back in the car."

Riley said both the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Tide Ford team with driver Scott Pruett and Lazzaro's NASCAR Busch Series program were unsure where they would test in December. She said they were concerned about the ability to transfer accrued knowledge from facilities the teams would not actually race at due to NASCAR's "blackout" of pre-season testing until next season.

She did say that while Lazzaro lives close to AMS, he would probably maintain a low profile this weekend and planned to possibly visit the track on Saturday.

"I talked to Anthony today and he said he needs to take it easy," Riley said. "He has commitments at the gym Thursday and Friday, so he is staying right on schedule. The important thing right now is that he is 100 percent when he gets back in the car."

nascar.com

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Series NASCAR-XS