Salazar Back For Nashville
July 17, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Salazar will return to his race-car this weekend, just three months after the Indy Racing League veteran was told he would miss the rest of the season recovering from injuries sustained in testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Salazar, 46, was by doctors Wednesday and will return to the No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet for the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway this weekend.
Salazar’s return moves substitute driver Greg Ray to Foyt’s No. 41 car for the race.
“I feel great, I am training full-time and I am ready to come back,” Salazar said.
Thoracic surgeon Dr. John Fehrenbacher examined Salazar Wednesday and upon his approval, Salazar was cleared top race by IRL medical director Dr. Henry Bock.
Bock initially said Salazar would be out for nine months while recovering from an emergency operation to repair a torn vertebral artery in his chest.
The torn vertebral artery was a result of a testing accident April 16 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The accident occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m. (EST) April 16 during private testing for the 86th Indianapolis 500. Salazar made contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 1. He was driving teammate Airton Daré's No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet.
"I told them that my bones heal much faster than the normal person," Salazar said. "My quick recovery may surprise others, but I expected it. As for racing, it will take me a couple of races to be back in top form because there is no exercise regimen that can prepare you for the rigors of racing at over 200 mph.
"Coming back at Nashville will be tough for me because it is a tough track, and it is only a two-day show, so I will have to get with the program pretty fast."
Salazar, who has driven for Foyt since 2000, has one career win and 10 Top 5 finishes. He had two top 5 finishes in the first three races of 2002 season.
Richie Hearn and Ray have filled in driving the No. 11 this season, combing for three Top 15 finishes in six races.