Ernie Irvan, nearly killed five years ago in a crash at Michigan Speedway, apparently escaped serious injury today although he was knocked out when he again hit the wall.
Irvan was in fair condition at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti, said track spokesman Tommy Cameron. The crash happened five years to the day of his near-fatal wreck on the same track.
"He was alert, oriented and able to move his arms and legs," Cameron said today. "The hospital will admit him for further examination."
Irvan, who crashed during practice this morning, will not drive this weekend. He will be replaced by Dick Trickle on Sunday in the Pepsi 400 Winston Cup race.
The 40-year-old Irvan was unconscious when he taken from his Busch Grand National car, but became responsive as he was being transported to the infield care center, Cameron said.
"He was talking to the doctors," Cameron said. "He was answering their questions."
Irvan, who was airlifted to the hospital, had planned to compete in both the NAPA 200 Busch Series race Saturday and the Winston Cup event. He co-owns the Busch car, and is in his second year driving the Winston Cup car for MB2 Motorsports. Last month, Irvan's contract was extended through the end of next year.
Frye said the seriousness of 1994 accident was part of the reason for Irvan's withdrawal.
"It was scary. Anytime anything like this happens, it makes you stop and think," Frye said. "We believe he's going to be just fine,"
Rescuers trying to get Irvan out had to cut the roof from his car. He appeared to lose control of his Pontiac during practice and spun in turn 4 on the 2-mile superspeedway. The rear quarter panel struck the concrete wall before the driver's side made contact.
As he was removed from the car, Irvan appeared to pick his arm up in what looked like a wave.
When he crashed during Winston Cup practice on Aug. 20, 1994, he was unconscious for two days. Irvan sustained critical brain and chest injuries. He was given only a 10-percent chance of survival.
But he returned to the circuit on Oct. 1, 1995, in North Wilkesboro, N.C.
Irvan has 15 Winston Cup victories, but none since taking the June race at Michigan in 1997. He is 26th this year in the standings.
Irvan was attempting to make his third Busch start this season. His only other Busch races were in Richmond, Va., on May 14, and in Dover, Del., on June 5. He was involved in a three-car crash and failed to finish the Dover race.
Trickle, a 57-year-old driver without a Winston Cup ride this weekend, had planned to race his Busch car against Irvan. Trickle had mixed emotions about replacing Irvan.
"He doesn't deserve this," Trickle said.
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