IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud walked away unharmed from a terrifying wreck during practice at Mid-Ohio on Saturday, where his car from Meyer Shank Racing rolled seven times through a gravel trap before coming to rest on its side.
Pagenaud remained motionless in his car for a moment as the AMR safety crew rushed to check on him, but the 2016 series champion was able to climb from the wreckage. Pagenaud sat on the gravel for a moment to collect himself, then got to his feet and into the medical car, which whisked him to the track's care center.
"It was a hell of a ride, that's for sure," Pagenaud said. "We had something go wrong and I couldn't slow down. I tried to make the corner anyways. I know that gravel is deadly. Michael Andretti has done it, so I guess I joined another legend, so that's cool."
The wreck was eerily reminiscent of Andretti's crash 25 years ago at Mid-Ohio, where he also rolled through a gravel trap.
"I was just trying to bail out," Pagenaud said. "It's downhill, which is nuts. The car took off, I hit the gravel and it just rolled. I'm just glad I didn't go over the tire wall. So glad that we have the Aeroscreen -- so thankful that the IndyCar has the Aeroscreen."
The screens are laminated polycarbonate and were implemented several years ago to protect drivers from debris. In this case, the screen not only protected Pagenaud from the gravel but also kept his head from hitting the ground and tire barrier.
IndyCar said Pagenaud was evaluated and released from the care center but, according to series protocol, would not be cleared to return to the track Saturday. That meant Pagenaud would miss qualifying, which was scheduled for later in the day, but he could clear another evaluation Sunday that would allow him to race.