CHAMPCAR/CART: Al Unser, Jr. Returns at Nazareth

Just in time for Nazareth, Al Unser Jr. takes his first spin since breaking his ankle at the season opener. By Gordon Kirby Al Unser Jr. drove his racecar for the first time on Monday, just five weeks after breaking his right ankle in CART's...

Just in time for Nazareth, Al Unser Jr. takes his first spin since breaking his ankle at the season opener. By Gordon Kirby

Al Unser Jr. drove his racecar for the first time on Monday, just five weeks after breaking his right ankle in CART's season opener at Homestead.

Unser ran 50 laps at the 1.25-mile Gateway Raceway oval just outside of St. Louis. He planned to run more laps on Tuesday before flying to Nazareth for the start of practice on Thursday.

"It's been raining all day, so it kept me under 50 laps," Unser said Monday evening. "When I quit running, [Helio] Castro-Neves was quickest at a 26 flat. My quickest today was a 27.4. I was two-tenths quicker than Gil de Ferran today. We had too little stagger on, and the car wouldn't turn that good. But really, it was just me getting back in the saddle. I didn't want to do anything stupid today."

The Marlboro Team Penske driver said his broken ankle feels good and he believes he will have no problems racing at Nazareth this weekend.

"I've got to call Dr. Trammell and tell him I didn't feel any pain. I felt great out there. I can drive it. I'm left-foot braking of course, like I always do. It feels pretty good. I can hold it wide-open and shift it, and have it not get tired. It's when I come off the throttle and I'm sitting in the pits that [it is] the worst. That's when it starts aching."

Al is driving with a carbon fiber brace on his right ankle and says he feels much better than when he broke the same ankle at Road America in 1985. On that occasion, he raced in the Pocono 500 two weeks after the injury, despite having to be lifted into and out of his car.

"The brace helps me a lot," he said, "It feels a hell of a lot better than the first time I drove in 1985. I'll ice my ankle tonight and be ready to go again tomorrow."

Source: cart.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Al Unser
Teams Team Penske