IndyCar driver hit wall so hard he damaged his heart

IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth stands in the garage area near his car at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Hawksworth suffered a practice crash at Pocono last Saturday that was so severe it damaged his heart. Photo / AP
IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth stands in the garage area near his car at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Hawksworth suffered a practice crash at Pocono last Saturday that was so severe it damaged his heart. Photo / AP

Jack Hawksworth hit the wall at Pocono so hard that he hurt his heart.

Hawksworth hopes the wreck won't halt the momentum of his promising rookie season in IndyCar.

Hawksworth arrived for pre-race preparations at Iowa Speedway on Thursday, just four days after being released from the hospital.

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He missed last weekend's race at Pocono Raceway after a nasty crash during a practice run. The 23-year-old English driver was diagnosed with a myocardial contusion -- more commonly known as a bruised heart -- but he has been cleared to race on Saturday.

"I'm feeling a lot better. A bit sore still," said Hawksworth, who is 16th in the IndyCar standings. "I guess at the time it was a bit more worrying ... but it's OK and I'm ready to go again."

Hawksworth's return to the track was quick considering what happened in the hours following his wreck.

Hawksworth drove down to the apron of Pocono's first turn when he got loose. The car fishtailed as it rose to the top of the track, and Hawksworth was backward when he drilled the wall.

Although Hawksworth said he had "the wind knocked out of him," he felt largely fine in the moments immediately following the crash. But soon after being evaluated and released from the infield care center, Hawksworth knew his weekend was over.

"I just began to get a big headache. I got sick. I just didn't feel right," Hawksworth said. "Initially it was just a feeling of being very unwell."

He landed a fulltime IndyCar seat after winning three of 12 races in the Indy Lights feeder series in 2013. He showed flashes of his potential this season, qualifying fifth in Long Beach and second for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. In Houston at the end of June, he finished sixth and third in two races. But the successful setup Hawksworth and his team found in Texas was put on hold by his wreck.

When asked if he was worried about any long-term effects of the crash, Hawksworth said his doctors told him he might "live to be 100."

"I love being in the car, so I just want to get back out there," Hawksworth said. "You also know that that's part of the sport."

-AP

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