INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Sebastien Bourdais returned to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, eight days after a scary crash that left the Frenchman with a fractured pelvis, hip and two ribs.
Bourdais used crutches to get around the famed speedway before the Indy 500. He nearly fell trying to step onto a dais because he couldn't put any weight on his right leg.
"I'm feeling good enough to be here," he said. "It's great to be out of the hospitalized environment. I've never faced that before. It's great to feel about normal right now, to be able to walk around and see some familiar faces and a lot of good friends. I'm really happy to be here."
Bourdais crashed during Indy 500 qualifying last weekend, hitting the wall at 227 mph. His car spun in Turn 2, slammed into the outside wall and flipped several times.
He allowed The Associated Press to attend one of his physical therapy sessions Saturday at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, where he checked himself in earlier this week. He showed the AP two scars, including a lengthy one along the right side of his torso.
"If you give me a load of painkillers, I can do a lot," Bourdais said Sunday. "But I don't feel so sharp when they fade off. It's just going to be a long process and there's no reason to rush. I can't put any weight on that right leg for another five weeks, so it's just going to be about getting patience and being sure I'm ready when it matters."
Bourdais stayed for the Indy 500 and even made his way to the infield care center to check on four-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon after a harrowing crash early in the race.
Bourdais ranks sixth on IndyCar's career win list — second among active drivers behind Dixon — and had never before been seriously injured in a race car. Three small wiggles on a flyer lap at Indianapolis on May 20 changed that.
He wanted desperately to return to the track for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" — he refused to use a wheelchair — and plans to be back behind the wheel for the season finale at Sonoma Raceway in mid-September.
"It's just important to show I'm in good spirits, that I'm physically doing well and I have no intention to let this incident stop my career or anything," Bourdais said. "And it's even more important to come back before the end of the season 'cause otherwise it's just going to be a really long offseason with a lot of questions and uncertainty and everything."
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