|HILLIARD, Ohio, USA., May 17, 2005 - Dr. Henry Bock, senior director, medical services for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League, informed Rahal Letterman Racing this morning that defending Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice will not drive in this year’s 89th running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on Sunday, May 29.
Rice was injured last Wednesday, May 11, in a single-car crash in turn two at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice runs in his No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda/Panoz/ Firestone car. Rice suffered a concussion and back contusion in the incident and spent Wednesday night in Methodist Hospital. He was released from the hospital Thursday morning.
According to Bock, further evaluation of Rice discovered a partially torn spinal ligament in his mid to lower neck area that is essential to maintaining the alignment of the spine. Doctors have recommended rest and rehabilitation and Rice will be re-assessed in approximately three weeks.
Rice will continue his rehabilitation in the Indianapolis area for the next two weeks.
“Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed that I won’t be able to defend my Indy 500 championship,” said Rice. “I have spent the last several months thinking about, working towards and planning how I would defend my Indy 500 victory. Physically I feel fine, but I have to trust the Speedway and IRL medical team because they are looking out for my safety. I am optimistic that I will be cleared for Texas (June 9-11) and will be able to get back in the car. I plan to stay here in Indy and help our team in any way I can. I think this team can win the Borg Warner Trophy again and I hope I can assist them in accomplishing that goal.”
“This has been a difficult obstacle for Buddy,” said Bobby Rahal, the 1986 Indy 500 winner. “Our first concern is that he recover physically from the accident, and we have been assured by Dr. Bock that in this case that the time off will be the solution. Our intent is to move forward over the next two weeks with a replacement driver who will qualify and race the No. 15 Argent/Pioneer Honda car.”
Rahal Letterman Racing will announce its plans for the No.15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda/Panoz/Firestone machine in a press conference Wednesday, May 18, at 9:30 a.m. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway trackside conference room.
Practice for the Indianapolis 500 will resume on Wednesday at Noon. Qualifying for the 500-Mile Race is scheduled for this Saturday, May 21, and Sunday, May 22.
(Rahal Letterman Press Release)