What should have been one of the glorious moments of Sebastian Saavedra’s young career as a Verizon IndyCar Series driver turned out to be an incredible disaster. Saavedra was starting Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis from the pole position at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
As the 25-car field was awaiting the lights to go out for the first-ever standing start of an IndyCar race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Saavedra’s car stalled. Cars sped past him as IndyCar officials kept the green light on with some of the cars squeezing to the inside of Saavedra’s Dallara/Chevrolet and the pit retaining wall at very high speed. Some made it but Carlos Munoz drilled the back of Saavedra, ripping the rear assembly from the car.
Mikhail Aleshin, a rookie driver from Russia, ran into the back of the Saavedra’s car and landed on top of crumpled the vehicle. The front stretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a debris field with a rear wheel and suspension laying on the track.
Despite taking two hard impacts, Saavedra was able to climb from the wreckage unhurt. All three drivers were checked and released from the IU Health Infield Care Center at Indianapolis Motor Speedway without injuries.
“I didn’t know anything,” Aleshin said. “I just saw the back of the car and that was it. I didn’t even brake because I had no time to react. I was in fourth gear so I was around 160 miles per hour when I hit him.
“It’s a disappointment, for sure.
“That’s racing. That’s all I can say.”
Saavedra normally has a smile on his face but the 23-year-old from Bogota, Colombia had a very intense look of disappointment.
“All I have to say is I’m OK,” Saavedra said. “That’s it. I’m OK.”
After having time to think about it, he described what happened.
“We just followed protocol of the start,” Saavedra said. “As soon as I released the clutch you went from 11,000 RPMs to 0. Very sad because we did and amazing job. Everybody did. The team had very high expectations. I’m really disappointed. We have to see what happened. This should not have happened.”
Saavedra’s co-team owner Gary Peterson told FOXSports.com that the problem that triggered the incident was not the fault of his driver but likely an electronic issue to the car.
“I know what happened; it wasn’t the driver’s fault, but I’m not going to say anything until all the data is downloaded,” Peterson said. “It’s nothing the driver did. I thought it was supposed to go yellow if a car stalled. I know he had plenty of time. He had his hand up and then, boom he got hit.
“It’s racing. The problem is we need a car to run on Monday for Indianapolis 500 practice and now we don’t have one. The good thing is nobody got hurt.”Carlos Munoz, GP of Indy, IndyCar, Mikhail Aleshin, Sebastian Saavedra, Video