Johnson ready to run on Long Beach with a broken hand

Long Beach, Calif. (AP) — Jimmy Johnson pulled a glove on a specially made carbon fiber splint for his broken right hand. A piece of tape wrapped around two fingers on the outside of the glove was meant to prevent him from using his pinky—the point closest to the fracture—as he drove his car around Long Beach’s downtown streets.

But what should have been a Saturday morning test to determine his fitness, a day after Johnson was injured, ended in another accident, another trip to the medical center and another set of X-rays.

“I didn’t have any pain on the track, I felt great, just tried to go too fast in Turn 1 and locked the tires and went wide,” Johnson said outside the medical center. “I’m more disappointed in myself making a mistake and tearing the car down again. But from an injury perspective I feel really good.”

Johnson said he is good to go for Sunday at Long Beach, with the IndyCar stop considered his home race. He grew up in El Cajon two hours away, so Long Beach was an annual childhood family trip, and Johnson rented a suite for 40 friends so he could start his second IndyCar career at Long Beach.

However, it has been a whirlwind weekend for Johnson. He arrived in Long Beach after finishing an IndyCar career-best sixth in his oval debut at Texas Motor Speedway—a performance that suddenly turned the seven-time NASCAR champion into Indianapolis 500 contender conversation.

Johnson himself was among those campaigning for the Indy 500 debut in Friday morning’s comments; Hours later, he hit a tire barrier and broke his arm. The injury was immediately apparent as Johnson’s in-car camera showed him moving his right hand.

It appeared that Johnson did not take his hands off the steering wheel, which is a common practice in open wheel racing to protect the driver from the force of impact. NASCAR drivers usually don’t take their hands off the steering wheel in a crash.

But Johnson clarified on Saturday that he took his hands off the steering wheel but did not pull them back far enough to avoid injury.

“I let go, I couldn’t get them far enough out of the way,” Johnson said. “But I let go and then with impact, I feel my hands move in the path of the wheel spinning and the bottom of the wheel has caught on.”

X-rays taken Friday showed the brakes, and his Chip Ganassi Racing team was tasked with making a splint that IndyCar would approve for use in the car. The small black piece was wrapped in tape along the ridge of his right hand and had to be approved by IndyCar safety pioneer Dr. Terry Trammell.

It remained tense for several hours as CGR and Johnson worked hard to get him back in the car by Saturday morning. Ganassi sports car driver Sebastian Bourdais, a four-time IndyCar champion, will likely be Johnson’s replacement if he cannot race on Sunday.

“We went through all the right moves and then on-track, it just faded in my mind and I was just running laps,” said Johnson, who arrived at the track at 6 a.m. Saturday to get used to the splint.

“Dr. Trammel is amazing. He knew exactly what to make, how to make, and where to put it. Turns out, the man knows what he’s doing.”

X-rays on Saturday showed the brakes had aligned overnight, and apart from some repairs to his number 48 and Johnson forgave himself for his second accident, he was ready to get back in the car.

“I’m just bothered with myself. I know where I need to get better in these cars and how to attack, and that is in the braking zone and releasing the brakes,” he said. “I personally have the most It was a good lap and I was in that rhythm of releasing the brakes and allowing the car to roll fast to the top.

“And when I did, I lost the back and had to grab and run into the tires. I hate making mistakes, and I’ve made two now (at Long Beach).


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