Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

De Silvestro burns both hands in fiery crash

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro burned both hands during a crash at an Indy 500 practice Thursday, threatening her participation in qualifying Saturday and Sunday.

HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins said there's an outside chance the team would bring in another driver to get De Silvestro's backup car qualified, then bring her back to start the May 29 race at the back of the field.

"That's something we're evaluating, but I think we're going to stick with Simona and hopefully try to get her back up to speed," he said.

The 22-year-old has second-degree burns on her right hand and superficial burns on her left, track officials said. She was able to walk to a vehicle that took her to the track's medical centre, then she was transported to a hospital.

Wiggins expected De Silvestro to leave the hospital Thursday.

"She's OK," Wiggins said. "She's shaken up a bit."

De Silvestro lost control of her car and it slammed into a wall, went airborne and flipped several times before coming to a rest upside down and in flames. Smoke continued to billow from the severely damaged car as her crew turned it right side up so it could be towed off the track.

"The car is completely destroyed," Wiggins said. "That was our special car for here, which takes a lot of effort. We've got to get that sorted out, and obviously, she's got to get her confidence back up as well."

De Silvestro has experience driving the backup.

"She ran it here on Saturday in testing," Wiggins said. "She's used to it, but the other one is better. There's a lot of special bits and a lot of attention that goes into one car, particularly for this event."

De Silvestro is 11th in the IndyCar standings, with a season-best fourth-place finish at St. Petersburg.

Danica Patrick, meanwhile, might be preparing for her last Indianapolis 500.

Rumours that Patrick would jump to NASCAR have dogged her for years and even have been acknowledged by IndyCar officials. The 29-year-old, who has driven in both IndyCar and the NASCAR Nationwide series this year and last, was vague when asked about her plans Thursday.

"I suppose anything is possible," she said. "But I know for me, I haven't made any of those decisions yet."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 20, 2011 C6

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