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APRIL 24, 2003

Mario! (Part 2)

Mario Andretti's return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was certainly a dramatic one. The 63-year-old former World Champion was out practicing yesterday when he was involved in an end-over-end accident after hitting wreckage left on the track when Kenny Brack crashed.

The Swede lost control of his car at Turn One, Andretti was behind him at the time and ran over debris at over 200mph. The impact lifted the nose of his car and this flipped it into the air and it went end over end. Fortunately the car landed on its wheels.

""I haven't been upside down too many times, and I didn't want to do it here," he said. "What I hit wasn't big, but it was solid, and it was able to launch me, and then all I saw was sky."

The Andretti Green Racing team, run by his son Michael, said that they were happy with Mario's performance and that the debris was just a freak incident.

Mario has always been unlucky at Indianapolis. He thought he had finally won the race in 1981 but an appeals court later took away the victory. In 1986 he led most of the race but broke down near the finish.

Before the crash Andretti had completed 50 laps with a best of 225.4mph. He needs to speed up a little in order to qualify for the 500, last year's final qualifier having lapped at 227.09mph.