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Rice Ruled out of Indy 500

Winner of the 2004 Indianapolis 500 Buddy Rice has been ruled out of this year's event due to injuries, the driver said today

Rice was injured in a practice accident last week, which saw him lose control in Turn Two of the Speedway. He was taken to the Indianapolis Methodist Hospital with a concussion and severe back cotusion.

Rice was expected to make full recovery in time for qualifying this week, however according to Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League and Indianapolis Motor Speedway senior director of medical services, a further medical examination revealed that Rice suffers from a partially torn spinal ligament in his mid to lower neck area.

"Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed that I won't be able to defend my Indy 500 Championship," Rice said. "I have spent the last several months thinking about, working toward 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 and will be able to get back in the car. I plan to stay here in Indy and help our team in anyway I can.

"I think this team can win the Borg-Warner Trophy again, and I hope I can assist them in accomplishing that goal."

Rice's team owner Bobby Rahal said an announcement on Rice's replacement for the race will be made tomorrow, adding: "This has been a difficult obstacle for Buddy. 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."

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