Six weeks after sustaining a back injury in a practice crash at Mid-Ohio, Justin Wilson is on the fast track to recovery, but has decided not to try to compete in the season finale at Las Vegas, as he had hoped.
The Briton, driver of the No. 22 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry, was involved in a single-car incident in practice on the Mid-Ohio road course in July. Wilson ran off on the exit of Turn 1, dropped two wheels off the asphalt and then the car became airborne. Wilson sustained an anterior compression fracture of the fifth vertebra when the car bounced, which has kept him out of the car ever since. He recently resumed fitness training for the first time since his accident.
"If I think back to how I felt immediately afterward, and compare that with what I can do now, it's been great progress," Wilson said. "It started to get less painful after the first two weeks and a couple of weeks ago I was able to raise my arms above my head for the first time. Now I'm in the swimming pool every day and doing some upper body exercises, so things are starting to feel normal again."
While Wilson might be fit enough to get in the car for the final race in Las Vegas on Oct. 16, he doesn't want to take any chances.
"I might be fit enough to drive at Vegas, but for the sake of one race, when I'm not in contention for anything in the championship, it just doesn't make sense," he said. "Jumping in the car after 11 and a bit weeks isn't the right way to see if my back is 100 percent healed or not."
During the 12-week recovery process, Wilson has had to be treated by bracing. Even though the back brace provided by Dr. Terry Trammell at OrthoIndy has been pretty uncomfortable, it was key to Justin's recovery. Sitting on the sidelines has been hard, but getting back to training is making each day go faster.
"Now I know what a turtle feels like!" he said. "But it's been worth the discomfort knowing that I'm going about the recovery the right way," Wilson said. "It's obviously been frustrating not being able to drive the No. 22 car. I felt we'd turned the corner on a disappointing start to the season and had genuine hopes of being up near the front in the second half of the year. But it won't be long now until preseason testing starts and I can focus on 2012."
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will announce Wilson's replacement for the final two races of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season shortly.