Sebastien Bourdais is recovering from surgery after fiery crash during Indy 500 qualifying

The car of driver Sebastien Bourdai bursts into flames after it hit the wall in Turn 2 during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on Saturday.
(Greg Huey / Associated Press)

IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais is recovering from pelvis surgery Sunday after his car slammed into a barrier during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on Saturday.

Series medical director Dr. Geoffrey Billows says he met with Bourdais on Sunday and the French driver was “doing even better than I expected.”

Bourdais’ car wiggled going through the second turn and when the four-time Champ Car champion tried to correct the car, it slid up the track and slammed head-on into the SAFER barrier. The No. 18 car flipped before stopping on the back straightaway.

Bourdais was diagnosed with multiple fractures in his pelvis as well as a fractured right hip. He had surgery Saturday night.


“I want to thank everybody for the support and the messages, quite a few drivers have already dropped by,” Bourdais said in a statement. “It’s going to take time, but I’m feeling pretty good since the surgery. I’ll be back at some point. Just don’t know when yet!”

James Davison will replace Bourdais in Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 18 car. Davison drove for Coyne’s team in the 2015 Indy 500, finishing 27th. He made two additional starts with the team in 2013 and finished a career best 16th in his only other 500 start, in 2014.

Safety team members spent about 10 minutes getting Bourdais out of the car before putting him on a backboard. Track officials said he was awake and alert when he was transported by ambulance to the hospital. They said he never lost consciousness.

Bourdais had just completed two laps over 231 mph — the fastest laps of the day — when the car started to spin.


“Surgery went well,” Billows said in a statement. “I’ve met with Sebastien this morning and he was doing even better than I expected.”

Bourdais won the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Fla., and had the fastest time in Friday’s practice.

Because only 33 cars are entered for the 500, any that do not qualify will be sent to the back of the field and will be arranged based on entrant’s points.

One other driver, Zach Veach, also did not qualify Saturday. Veach crashed in practice earlier this week.

Carpenter leads qualifying

Ed Carpenter turned a tough draw into a winning hand Saturday. Now he has to do it all over again.

The only full-time owner-driver in the IndyCar Series took advantage of a cooling early evening track for a four-lap average of 230.468 mph on the first day of Indianapolis 500 qualifying. Takuma Sato was second at 230.382, and Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy winner, was third at 230.333. Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso finished seventh at 230.034.

All of the times will be erased for Sunday’s nine-car pole shootout as Carpenter chases his third pole in five years on his home track.


Another NHRA record

Matt Hagan had the fastest Funny Car pass in NHRA history to top qualifying Saturday in the NHRA Heartland Nationals.

Hagan had a 3.802-second pass at 338.85 mph in his Dodge Charger R/T at Heartland Park Topeka to break both ends of the national record during the first round of the day. It was the Virginia driver’s 28th No. 1 qualifying position and second of the season.

“We had an amazing hot rod,” Hagan said. “It’s pretty amazing. This is about as extreme as it gets — 338 mph with a steering wheel in your lap is craziness. We’ve got the conditions, the parts and pieces and the power and the crew that is doing a great job out there. It’s just cool to go out there and get it done.”

Tony Schumacher led in Top Fuel, and Bo Butner in Pro Stock. Schumacher broke the track time mark with a 3.660 at 327.90. Butner ran a 6.540 at 210.70 in a Chevrolet Camaro.

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