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Nelson Philippe was fortunate to survive his t-bone accident during practice at the Infineon Speedway on Saturday. The French driver was directly struck at high speed by Will Power's Penske whilst stranded out on track in one of the scariest incidents of the year.
With Philippe returning to the series, it was not a warm welcome back for the Conquest Racing driver as a second practice spin, between turns 3a and 4 in Sonoma County, saw his front wing clipped by E.J. Viso before Power arrived on the scene. "He told me he thought he'd killed me," the IndyStar was told by Philippe, whose car received a heavy side-on blow.
With Nelson stranded in the middle of the race track, the helpless 23-year-old could do nothing but brace for impact before being knocked out. "A huge bumblebee was about to hit me," he described of the yellow Penske. "From then it was lights out until they were taking me out of the ambulance at the infield medical centre."
The accident concussed both men although it was the Frenchman coming off worse with a broken right leg; Philippe also required a plate and five screws in surgery for his leg foot, which was impaled by the brake pedal during the smash.
The Australian did not come off lightly, though, as Power lost two front teeth when slamming into the steering wheel. "It was pretty hard on Will because he remembers the whole thing, but we can laugh about it now," Philippe continued after labelling Power, who remains on large doses of pain killers, 'Willie Bob' in California's Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where both men remain. "I'm in pretty good spirits," Nelson added. "I'm looking forward to getting back in the car."
The incident can be seen below:
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