FORT WORTH, June 9 - Robby McGehee of St. Louis struggled with an engine that was only running on seven cylinders for a good portion of the Casino Magic 500 Indy Racing Northern Light Series race at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night. He was...
FORT WORTH, June 9 - Robby McGehee of St. Louis struggled with an engine that was only running on seven cylinders for a good portion of the Casino Magic 500 Indy Racing Northern Light Series race at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night. He was just trying to make it to the finish in order to collect valuable points, but he was involved in an accident with Greg Ray and Eddie Cheever with just five laps to go that left McGehee with a concussion and a broken lower left leg. He was awake and alert when he was transported by helicopter to Parkland Hospital in Dallas while the victory lane celebrations went on for the race winner, Scott Sharp.
McGehee had been instructed to stay low while the leaders passed him on the last few laps, which is exactly what he was doing at the time of the accident. Greg Ray had the lead at the time, with Cheever about 0.2157 of a second behind.
Ray was doing everything he could think of to maintain his lead, and he made the split-second decision to go to the inside to lap McGehee rather than the outside. They made contact on the backstretch, and from that point on all three were just along for a wild ride.
McGehee and Cheever then made contact, and all three cars hit the wall. McGehee ended up at the entrance to pit road. Ray and Cheever walked away, while McGehee waved to the fans as he was on a stretcher being loaded onto an ambulance. Sharp, who made it through the melee unscathed, went on to win the race under caution.
McGehee ended up 14th in the unofficial rundown. He is currently tenth in the unofficial Indy Racing Northern Light Series point standings.
Before the engine problem, the team had been making progress after starting 17th.
Right away McGehee reported over the radio that his car was very loose in traffic, and he slipped to 21st by lap seven. He made in-cockpit adjustments to the suspension and the team made some more adjustments when McGehee made his first pit stop on lap 28 under a yellow flag for debris on the speedway.
Those adjustments improved the situation greatly, and at that point the worst thing that was wrong was the car's speedometer wasn't working, which made adhering to the pit lane speed a little tricky.
By lap 35 McGehee was running as fast as the leader and by lap 42 he had moved up to 19th place. By lap 57 he was 17th, and two laps later he had passed both Davey Hamilton and Jeret Schroeder to nail down 15th.
He continued to march up the scoring pylon, and he had a fierce battle with Didier Andre for 12th. Schroeder had an engine seize on lap 73 which caused a crash involving him, Davey Hamilton and Sarah Fisher. Fisher wasn't hurt, Schroeder just suffered a bruised ankle but Hamilton suffered severely broken legs and preceded McGehee to Parkland Hospital.
At the half-way point McGehee was 14th, which is the position he ended up in despite the engine problem that developed. The Cahill Racing team performed great pit stops all night, making their last one under yellow on lap 158. On the restart McGehee was 15th and he had a big battle with Buzz Calkins around lap 175 to maintain that position.
His biggest challenge in the last third of the race, however, was staying out of everyone's way due to his engine problems and the close racing conditions that typify an Indy Racing League event at Texas Motor Speedway.
"It's a lot harder to do a race this way, driving with your mirrors, than it is really racing," McGehee commented about 12 laps before the accident, and he was following his instructions and doing everything he could to stay out of everyone's way when his race came to its violent end just five laps from the finish.