by Lynne Huntting

British rookie Alex Lloyd may be forced to miss this weekend's qualifying sessions for the Indianapolis 500 after crashing out of the Fast Friday action and being taken to the local Methodist Hospital for checks.

The reigning Indy Pro Series champion hit the Turn One fence hard just after he turned his fastest lap in the Rahal Letterman with Chip Ganassi entry. Although the SWEM wheel tethers did their job, other parts of the #16 Dallara went flying, and the track was cold for 29 minutes while track clean-up and repair - including re-welding the SAFER barrier - were carried out. The car's left front wheel came off after the second impact, which knocked off the whole left front of the car.

Lloyd was first evaluated at the Clarion Emergency Medical Centre by the Indy Racing League's senior medical director, Dr Michael Olinger, and then transported to Methodist Hospital for evaluation after being diagnosed with a concussion. ALthough he suffered no fractures, the Briton reported a persistent neck pain and a headache. He was kept in overnight for observation.

A crew member on the #16 admitted that Lloyd 'probably won't be qualifying Saturday', and not just because of his symptoms. The car was heavily damaged, especially on the left side, and might not be ready until Wednesday. Lloyd is currently listed to run 38th in the qualifying order with his T-car and 60th in the damaged primary car.

Fifteen minutes earlier, fellow rookie Mario Dominguez had spun his Pacific Coast Motorsports car exiting the pit-lane, nosing into the inside retaining wall. He was checked, released and cleared to drive by Dr Olinger, but was slightly sheepish on his return to the pits.

"I was returning to the track for our second full run, and I exited too fast coming out of the pits," he explained, "I lost the rear of the car and crashed. Everyone is telling me to keep my patience, but we are already behind, and I guess I was trying to rush it back out there."

The PCM crew insists that Dominguez's car would be ready for Saturday qualifying. The Mexican is 31st to go out.

On a positive note, however, Jaime Camara returned to action on Fast Friday, having had his comeback delayed for two days by rain. The Brazilian, who was hospitalised on Monday, played himself back in gently.



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