Hinchcliffe relieved to return to Indy 500 practice after concussion

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SPEEDWAY – If you believed it was some incredible work of a skilled driver, so be it.

But for the record, James Hinchcliffe isn’t taking any of the credit.

“That must have been a subconscious thing, because I have no memory of that,” said the driver when he was struck with debris during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis last Saturday and then pulled his car off the road into the grass. “I guess I was lucky to come to not get into the wall there.

“Obviously it was a good enough hit that I didn’t feel like that I shouldn’t be driving.”

That was some good instincts, because Hinchcliffe suffered a concussion on the hit which knocked the visor off his helmet. We was taken off the track on a stretcher in obvious pain following the incident and was not seen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the better part of a week.

But now Hinchcliffe will be able to show his conscious talent sooner than later.

On Thursday afternoon the Andretti Autosport driver was cleared by doctors to resume his duties in the racecar as qualifications for the 98th Indianapolis 500 approach.

Hinchcliffe went out and ran one test lap before the practice session concluded on Thursday afternoon-a simple act that meant a lot after missing nearly a week.

“Obviously very excited. It’s been a long couple of days sitting at home and not even really watching,” said Hinchcliffe. “I was banned from electronics and I was getting little updates and snippets here and there, and that made it tougher because you don’t know exactly what’s going on.

“But I knew everyone was running and I was sitting at home.”

EJ Viso was specifically running in his No. 27 machine while he was sitting at home trying to recover after taking a hit to the head during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon. Hinchcliffe said he followed the strict protocol of his doctors, including wearing sunglasses as well as staying away from electronics.

“I woke up Sunday with a little bit of a headache, but other than that, not bad at all. I did a really intense day of resting, which is kind of an oxymoron, but a lot of sitting around,” said Hinchcliffe. “My girlfriend (Kirsten Dee) and my sister (Rebecca) and my family were there and they took really good care of me and made sure I didn’t have to lift a finger.”

Finally he did so on Tuesday when he was cleared for light work with his trainer with the announcement that more tests would be run on Thursday. When they were, Hinchcliffe was cleared to start racing and just in time as well, since Fast Friday and opening day of qualifications were less than 24 and 48 hours away, respectively.

That was the toughest thing knowing it kind of make or break and seeing everyone driving. It was the first time I’d been here for any on-track activity and it was tough to watch but it’s all come good. Looking forward to getting out there.”

“The biggest thing was I wanted to be back for qualifying and if I wanted to do that I had to go overkill on the rest and do everything the doctor said,” Hinchcliffe said. “We did that and more and luckily it was enough. It’s amazing to be back. Such a good feeling.”

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