Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe looks set to miss at least some days of practice for the Indianapolis 500, after being forced to retire from Saturday's road course race with a concussion.
The Canadian was running in the top ten on lap 56 when he suddenly took to the run-off area at turn 7 and parked the car, telling his team over the radio that he wasn't quite sure what had happened but that he had sustained an injury.
A subsequent press release from Andretti Autoport's PR team said that Hinchcliffe has been taken for treatment to the IU Health Infield Medical Center, and subsequently transported by ground to the nearby IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
Hinchcliffe was quickly discharged from the hospital after being evaluated and having a CT scan of his head and neck. However, IndyCar medical director Dr Michael Olinger revealed that Hinchcliffe has been diagnosed with a concussion.
As a result, Hinchcliffe will need to be re-evaluated by Olinger and by IndyCar's medical consultants before he is cleared to return to driving the #27 United Fiber & Data Andretti Autosports Dallara-Honda.
Last year, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. was forced to sit out two races after being diagnosed with a concussion, the symptoms of which can include headaches and blurred vision.
A two-week enforced leave would put Hinchcliffe's participation in this year's Indianapolis 500 at risk. Six days of practice gets underway on Sunday, with the all-important qualifying sessions taking place next weekend on May 17 and 18. The 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place just over two weeks from now on Sunday, May 25.
"I'm a little stiff and sore and I'd love to be back in the car tomorrow, but I suppose I should probably let the doctors make that decision," the team statement quoted Hinchcliffe as saying. "Such a bummer for the UFD car when things were really starting to come together.
"I want to thank all the fans for their messages of concern and support," he added.
Andretti Autosport said in a team statement that in the event that Hinchcliffe is not medically cleared to drive this week at Indianapolis, EJ Viso will be called up to fill in for his former teammate.
Viso finished 13th in the 2013 standings despite not competing in the finale because of illness. The 29-year-old Venezuelan recorded two top-five finishes with a best of fifth at Toronto, and had seven top tens overall. He was running at the finish in 16 of the 18 races he competed in.
"I don't feel too behind with the other drivers with it being the first oval and being in very good circumstances with the team I was at last year," said Viso. "I know the system and trust their set-ups and trust the feedback of the teammates and trust the car. It's a good scenario.
"On the other side, I'm covering a good friend of mine - Hinch - and he's going to be back very soon," he added. "But in the meantime I'm going to be shaking down his car until he comes back."