It was around 3:30 PM EDT that the entirety of the Indycar community let out of collective sigh of relief. Their prayers had been answered. Robert Wickens, standout rookie of the 2018 campaign, was awake and alert. He had survived the horrific crash that befell him on the 8th lap of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.
After an unusual start, which saw Graham Rahl tag the bag of Spencer Pigot and send the young, Ed Carpenter driver, spinning around into the wall, the race began under yellow. While several in the paddock tried to blame polesitter Will Power for slowing down and bunching up the field, Power and his Penske engineers conclusively stated that he had kept the same speed throughout the final turn and that it was overeagerness on behalf of those farther back that had caused what seemed to be a bunch up.
After 7 laps of running behind the safety car, the race finally went green. Cars flayed out along the main straight, wide as all get out. Everyone got through turn 1 just fine.
Then, on the Long Pond straight, leading into turn 2, Robert Wickens got a run on Ryan Hunter-Reay. Wickens stuck to the inside, a gutsy move. The cars wiggled slightly. Then touched, sending Hunter-Reay spinning and collecting Wickens along the way.
Wickens front wheel got up over the nose of Hunter-Reay and he began to mount the SAFER barrier.
At that point, that moment when Wickens's nose inched over the wall, we all knew what was coming. Digging into the catch fence, Wickens pinwheeled, his car being torn apart at the seams. Debris exploded onto the track and fluids from Wickens's car were sprayed across the entire exit of Turn 2.
As the cars settled back to earth, James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato, and Pietro Fittipaldi also fell victims to the crash, ending up spinning out or making contact with the wall themselves.
But all eyes were focused on the driver in car number 6, Robert Wickens.
For what seemed like the longest time, we heard nothing. No response from ground crews, no response from drivers, or hospital personnel. Then, finally, after the chopper had taken off, after the other drivers had been cleared from medical, and after James Hinchcliffe, childhood friend and teammate of Wickens, refused interviews so as to be by his friends side, the news came. Robert Wickens was awake and alert.
While we still do not know the full extent of Wickens's injuries, it has been confirmed by multiple sources that the Canadian sensation suffered 2 broken ankles, a broken arm, a possible fractured vertebrae, and a pulmonary contusion.
Two hours the accident, the race was restarted. Alexander Rossi went on to dominant the affair, leading 180 of 200 laps and shrinking his gap to championship points leader Scott Dixon. But even after the race, in what should have been a jubilant victory lane, Rossi's thoughts were with Robert Wickens.
And, indeed, all of our thoughts are with the young Canadian as news about his condition still remains scarce. What we can be thankful for, however, is that this accident however horrific was not fatal. In years gone by a wreck such as this would have ended far differently. It is, in large part, thanks to the painstaking effort Indycar and Dallara have put into safety that this article does not have a different tone. And it is, without question thanks to the truly legendary AMR safety team, who are, without question, the best in the business that we are able to be talking about Robert the way we are right now.
The helicopter, bearing Robert Wickens, departs Pocono, headed for the local hospital. Phot Credit: Matt Slocum/AP
We will, no doubt, be hearing more and talking more about Robert Wickens, his crash, and what Indycar can do to stop another crash like this from happening. But in the meantime, say a prayer for Robert. He needs it right now.