INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis got off
to an inauspicious start Saturday when pole-sitter Sebastian Saavedra
stalled, triggering a violent wreck.
IndyCar used a standing start for the series' first race on the road
course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But Saavedra's car simply didn't
go when the lights went out and, after Ryan Hunter-Reay frantically
darted around him, Saavedra was clipped by Carlos Munoz and then hit
hard from behind by Mikhail Aleshin.
"We just followed protocol at the start," Saavedra said. "As soon as I
released the clutch, it went from 11,000 rpm to zero. This should not
have happened, unfortunately."
The initial hit from Munoz didn't seem too bad, but Aleshin's direct
hit sprayed debris all over the track, sending spectators and track
workers standing along the wall scrambling for cover. Indianapolis Mayor
Greg Ballard, the honorary race starter, was waving the green flag when
he was struck near his left elbow and on the left side of his chest by
debris, spokesman Marc Lotter said.
Ballard was treated at the scene but did not require stitches and
after treatment he left the track to watch the rest of the race from
home, Lotter said.
Saavedra was seen in his cockpit with his arms in the air
anticipating a potential collision as cars tried to weave their way
around his stalled KV Racing car. He was visibly upset after the
accident as he talked to his team on his pit stand. He had won the
first pole of his career -- in part because Hunter-Reay had his two
fastest laps disallowed for causing a caution in Friday's qualifying --
and was looking for a strong finish at the famed race track.
"Man, we had an opportunity to be at the front of the pack in this
amazing place. We wanted to bring it home in the same place," he said.
"To not even get a chance because of a freaking electrical thing ... . "
Munoz said he could not avoid clipping his fellow Colombian.
"I was already in fifth gear," Munoz said. "I was really close to the
car in front of me, I just saw him go to the right. I just had to go to
the left, but I was not fast enough."