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Practice crash knocks Carlson out of Indy 500 news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- Every race day for the Indianapolis 500, Tyce Carlson has a ritual where he gets up early and makes a two-mile walk from his home in nearby Speedway to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It helps him focus on what lies ahead for him as a driver.

But this year, when Carlson makes that long walk in the pre-dawn hours, he will be doing it as a spectator. Carlson was knocked out of this year's race after he was knocked out from a crash in practice on Sunday.

Because Carlson suffered a concussion, IMS director of medical affairs Dr. Henry Bock told him he would not be cleared to drive before Sunday, which means he would not be allowed to qualify for this year's 84th Indianapolis 500.

"It's part of the job," Carlson said after he was released from Methodist and returned to the speedway Monday. "I'm getting better and getting ready for Texas (the Casino Magic 500 on June 10). I'm here to support my guys.

"I went through the corner on Sunday and the car came around on me. That's part of this track. You go around one time perfect. The next time, you go around on it and you lose it. That is why only the best come here."

Hubbard-Immke Racing announced today that Hideshi Matsuda of Japan will replace Carlson in the team's Dallara/Oldsmobile Aurora. However, the team decided to extend Carlson's contract for three more years as a show of faith to the 29-year-old driver.

"He's probably the most devastated he has ever been in his life and we wanted to show our dedication to him," said Jim Immke, co-owner of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series team. "There is a time in your life when you have to consider the more important things in life, your family and your future. ... We have been talking about contract extensions from the beginning of the year." Matsuda already had a ride in this year's Indianapolis 500 as driver for Beck Motorsports. Now, the driver from Japan and team owner and engineer Greg Beck simply will move over to Hubbard-Immke Racing.

"This is the simple merger involving the driver of one team with the equipment of another," Immke said. "Chief engineer Greg Beck has such experience and confidence with Hideshi that it allows us to easily do this problem that works for both groups."

Matsuda has competed in four Indianapolis 500s, finishing eighth in 1996. By putting Matsuda into Hubbard-Immke's car, that opens the possibility that Beck can put another driver into his machine to make the Indianapolis 500 field.

"Right now, that is not my biggest concern," Beck said. "Potentially, it's a car that could be run. Right now we need to just focus on getting Hideshi up to speed. He's going to go out later today in my car. We need to focus on the job at hand."
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