Walker to Drive ...
Walker to Drive #V12 in Hodnett's Absence
By Richard Day
MORGAN, MN (April 19) -- Greg Hodnett was driving Jimmy Vasser's #V12 Wirtgen Maxim with the leaders when he crashed Saturday in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature at Tri-City Speedway. The series' 1993 Rookie of the Year recorded three top-10 finishes and won a Preliminary Feature in the previous four events before flipping during a 10th-lap restart. Hodnett suffered a broken left shoulder blade in the crash and will miss four weeks of action. Hodnett and team manager Guy Forbrook are pleased to have Tyler Walker drive the sprinter in Greg's absence. "We talked to several people and really the only one who could do it during the four-week period is Tyler Walker," Hodnett said. "He's genuinely excited and we're happy to have him. I'm sure a lot of sprint car fans will be glad to see him back, too. He'll get in there and keep the car up front for us. We just need to get him reacclimated to sprint car racing. It'll probably take him about half a lap. I'm going to be out there, too, helping the team as I can." Walker, whose last sprint car race was the 1999 Amoco Knoxville Nationals, is glad to return to the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series. "It's great to be back," Walker said. "I just want to help Guy and them out. Hopefully, I can do a good job for them. I just want to start out strong this weekend (at Eldora Speedway) and get them two top-five finishes. I'm really anxious, probably more anxious than I should be. This gives me an opportunity to go back to what I know. I hope to be back in the groove again after hot laps." Forbrook, winner of eight Knoxville Raceway championships as a car owner, is pleased to have Walker in the #V12. "We needed somebody with good experience who could fill in for the next four weeks," Guy said, "and we think Tyler is the best choice for the job. Probably the biggest thing for us to do is to keep his excitement level down at first. There's no doubt in my mind he's capable of running the race car to the fullest extent, but we need to have a couple of nights before we get to that point. Eldora isn't the best place in the world to start, but that's were it's going to be." Forbrook was sad to see Hodnett suffer the injury only 11 events into the season. "It's one of those things where you work all year to race with the series and when you lose your driver you lose half your team," Guy said. "It knocks the wind out of everybody's sails. We had high expectations. It's only four weeks, but we have a lot more races to run. You just have to focus differently now. We'll race extra hard in the big races and build for next year." Hodnett will see many doctors while he recuperates. "I just got into an accident," Hodnett said of the back-stretch crash. "I started flipping and I don't remember much after that. My left scapula (shoulder blade) is broken. It's a little sore and the range of motion isn't there but, other than that, I don't feel bad at all. "I went to a neurosurgeon my sister works for (in Memphis) and he wanted to look at the CT scans they ran on me in Illinois. He even ran another one me to make sure they didn't miss anything. Everything was OK. "They set me up to visit an orthopedic doctor in the same building. He looked all the x-rays and took one from a different view and nothing out of the ordinary came up. He told me it could have been much worse. Now I just have to wait for it to heal -- about four weeks. I talked to Paul McMahan -- he did the same thing last year -- and he was out three weeks. I figure a safe assessment is four weeks. "I'm also going to see a couple of specialists in Indy. Jimmy Vasser got me an appointment to see Dr. Terry Trammell and Danny Lasoski was kind enough to get me in to see Dr. Harland Hunter. I'm going to see both of them Friday, then go to Eldora for the race."