INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 8, 2002 -- Indy Racing League driver PJ Jones was released May 8 from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with a fracture of the C-6 vertebrae, said Dr. Henry Bock, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League ...
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 8, 2002 -- Indy Racing League driver PJ Jones was released May 8 from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with a fracture of the C-6 vertebrae, said Dr. Henry Bock, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League director of medical services.
Recovery time is up to six weeks, Bock said. Brazilian veteran Raul Boesel has been named as the replacement driver of the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
Rookie Jones spun in Turn 1 at 5:40 p.m. (EST) Tuesday while practicing for the 86th Indianapolis 500. He made contact with the rear of the car with the outside SAFER barrier and then slid across the track, hitting the inside guardrail with the left side of the car. He was awake and alert when transported by ground to Methodist Hospital for precautionary X-rays.
Jones, son of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones, returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday afternoon wearing a neck brace and a smile. He was feeling no pain and happy that he was out of the hospital but dismayed that Team Menard was forced to find another replacement driver. Jones was substituting for regular Menard driver Jaques Lazier, who was injured in a crash in the Firestone Indy 225 on April 21 at Nazareth Speedway.
"Poor guys," Jones said of Team Menard. "They worked so hard. I don't know what to say for them. The car was great. It's just one of those things, I guess."
Still, Jones, who has been trying for several years to get a ride at the track where his father is revered, admitted he was emotionally let down by the incident that will sideline him for about six weeks.
"It's very discouraging," he said, "I mean, to come here and run so quickly and not be able to race. We had the car easily to be in the race. It's not better than that, and we were hoping to qualify right up front. What can you say? That's part of racing."
Jones said he took the car out with a fresh set of tires to do a simulated qualifying run on the practice laps when he crashed.
"I did my out laps pretty aggressively, and everything looked good," he said. "Went into (Turn) 3 wide open. It was real good. Went into (Turn) 4 wide open, no problem. Went into (Turn) 1, and the thing snapped just like that.
"I was kind of shocked because it hadn't done that at all. Just didn't give me any signs."