Sport Scott Dixon: Brutal wreck at 2017 Indy 500 not enough to overcome love for the sport

05:41  25 may  2018
05:41  25 may  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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INDIANAPOLIS – Scott Dixon can’t help but remember the violent crash he was involved in during the 2017 Indianapolis 500. The replays are rebroadcast all the time, and photos of his airborne car are everywhere. And really, how could he forget it?

Dixon’s car was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time during the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when it was in a wreck and shredded to pieces. It’s truly a miracle he walked away.

“Extremely lucky in that scenario, and hopefully if I’m ever in something like that again that I’m lucky, too,” Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner and four-time IndyCar Series champion, said Thursday at the track. “It’s the unfortunate part of our business, but the passion and love I have for the sport far outweighs any of those scenarios.”

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In the first half of the 2017 race, Jay Howard, who drives the No. 7 Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on Sunday, lost control of his car coming through Turn 1, slid up the track and bounced off the exterior wall. His car shot back toward the inside of the track into traffic, missing Tony Kanaan by inches before slamming into Dixon’s Honda.

The tremendous impact sent Dixon’s No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing car flying through the air and into the catchfence on the inside of the track. On its way down, it slammed into the solid barrier, tore open part of the catchfence and continued rapidly spinning in midair as it fell apart.

With the entire backside of the car ripped off, what was left of it eventually stopped moving, but only after returning to the track for a barrel roll and a couple of more spins. Amazingly, the car landed upright.

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“At that point, everything just slows down so much that it actually felt like it took a couple minutes to get through that whole crash,” Dixon explained. “I remember seeing Jay, realizing I couldn’t really turn away from it, hitting him, being airborne, looking down and thinking, ‘Wow, I’m really high.’”

“When I finally landed,” he continued, “I was sitting up looking at the crowd and I saw the whole back of a car missing and I was like, ‘Wow, I hope that person’s OK.’ When I got out, I actually realized it was my car.”

The car was destroyed, with little intact aside from the safety cell his seat rested in, which likely saved his life. “People say we’re fearless, but all of us have fear because we have great respect for the consequences of what could happen,” said Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda. “Going that fast in a lightweight car (1,600 pounds) it can get airborne very easily. With our heads exposed, it’s very dangerous. Scott was a few feet away from probably contacting the wall with his head.”

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The crowd near the area of the brutal wreck cheered when it was clear Dixon was moving and roared as the track’s safety crew pulled up to helped him out of the disintegrated car. After being evaluated and cleared by the medical team, Dixon nonchalantly called it a “wild ride” reacted to the crash in an interview with IndyCar, calling it “a wild ride.”.

Now, he said, watching the full replay was “definitely shocking.” But he still remembers being more disappointed than anything because he felt his car was competitive enough to win.

“This is a pretty safe sport,” Howard said Thursday at IMS. “People think we’re absolutely crazy for doing what we do. I guess we are partly, maybe not wired quite right upstairs. ... But let’s put it this way: Horse riding is more dangerous than this. So we have to sometimes take a step back and put things in perspective We can’t help it. We have passion for this place, regardless of the risks.

"This is what we love doing.”

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