Rice Crashes; Ruled Out of Pole

Defending Indianapolis 500 Champion Buddy Rice has been ruled out of Saturday's MBNA Pole Day after suffering a 200mph crash in practice today

Rice Crashes; Ruled Out of Pole

The Rahal-Letterman driver had completed nine laps before he lost control of his Panoz Honda at Turn Two of the 2.5-mile speedway. The rear of his car hit the wall and it spun several times before coming to rest.

Rice was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with a severe back contusion and concussion, and doctors will determine whether he can further participate in the event next week.

Kosuke Matsuura, who spun trying to avoid debris from Rice's crash, said: "Rice was just in a big hurry. When we both exited the pit lane, he overtook me immediately. He overtook Helio Castroneves and tried to overtake Sam Hornish. On the third lap, I was behind him, but not too close. He spun in the middle of Turn Two and he hit the wall. The track was covered with his parts.

"I wanted to go outside, but it was very dusty. His car came to the inside, so I spun to avoid the crash. I didn't hit the wall and I saved the car, but I have quite a lot of damage. Hopefully, Buddy will be able to come back and nothing is wrong with him."

The crash is a severe blow to Rice's chances of defending the crown. This weekend's two qualifying days, including Saturday MBNA Pole Day, will determine the first 22 positions of the grid. Assuming Rice is declared fit, he will have to qualify the following weekend, on May 21-22.


Rice's team boss Bobby Rahal said: "He's very sore but nothing is broken thankfully. They will not allow him to qualify this weekend but we think he'll be ready to go on Wednesday.

"It just seemed odd where it happened and seemed to be very early in the corner. We looked at the car and couldn't see anything that would indicate any kind of failure. The video wasn't very good and the guys following him didn't see anything."

Last year, Rice took pole and led 91 of the race's 180 laps - the 200-lap race was shortened due to rain - on the way to his maiden victory.

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