Simona De Silvestro to drive with pain
INDIANAPOLIS -- Simona De Silvestro has a simple game plan this weekend -- gut it out.
De Silvestro burned both hands last week when her car slammed into a wall in practice, went airborne and flipped several times before coming to a rest upside down and in flames.
On Friday, she plans to spend the final hour of Indianapolis 500 practice on the track, fine-tuning her backup car. She's hoping adrenaline helps numb the pain in her burned hands, especially during Sunday's 3-hour race.
"The race will be tough," she said. "It's hurting quite a bit now, but it's important for me to do as many laps as we can. There's no backup plan that I know of."
HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins wouldn't think of it after qualifying weekend.
After De Silvestro's No. 78 car skidded down the track last week, Wiggins said the team considered using a replacement driver for qualifying. Two days later, though, the tough 22-year-old Swiss driver produced one of the gutsiest qualifying runs in years at the famed Brickyard.
On her final Pole Day qualifying attempt, De Silvestro put up a four-lap qualifying average of 224.392 mph, good enough to put her safely in the field.
It made her an instant favorite among fans and colleagues.
"I don't think it's the hand injury as much as the fact that she got back in the car so quick after a bad accident. It's amazing," points leader Will Power said. "She was very brave."
Now can she complete 500 miles with the most talked about hands in racing?
For Wiggins, it's Simona or bust.
Because changing drivers would require changing the custom-fitted seat -- a move that would take them out of contention -- Wiggins said the team has not lined up a backup driver.
"You look at the grid and the number of professional drivers, and there's just not too many people who can just jump into a car," Wiggins said. "It did go through our minds at one stage of qualifying, but we've moved on from there."
Clearly, De Silvestro is hurting.
On Sunday, doctors peeled the burned skin off her hands, now covered in bandages from the middle of her fingers past her wrist. She expects the bandages to stay on for another 15 to 20 days.
De Silvestro and her medical team also are trying to come up with solutions to make Sunday's race more bearable.
Doctors have tried to dull the pain with "freeze" treatments and have given her special gloves, which De Silvestro planned to test during Friday's practice.
If all else fails, well, there's always her ability to tough things out.
"It will be different, but I think you'll get used to it," she said. "I think once you're in the race adrenaline takes over, and you'll get used to it."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
MORE RACING HEADLINES
- Dixon nabs pole for IndyCar race in Iowa
- Hawksworth (heart) cleared by IndyCar to race
- Montoya gets 1st win since IndyCar return
- J. Force beats Capps to earn 140th victory
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
95TH INDIANAPOLIS 500-MILE RACE
It's time for the 95th running of the Indianapolis 500, but it's the number 100 that counts in 2011. This is the 100th anniversary of the running of the first 500, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Centennial Era celebration is in high gear.
Indianapolis 500 Home
Race Day, May 29• Blount: The thrill and agony
• Hinton: Oh yeah, Indy is back!
• Oreovicz: Bad day for power teams
• McGee: What a capper to 100 years
• espnW: A roller-coaster ride for Indy women
• Gallery: 100th anniversary of the 500
• Recap: Wheldon wins a stunner
• Watch: Full highlights
• Watch: Full booth analysis
• Watch: Wheldon so thankful
• Watch: Hildebrand crestfallen
Saturday, May 28• Blount: Hang on to your hats!
• Hinton: Back again in Indiana
• ESPN.com staff: Our podium predictions
• Racing Live! Indy 500, Sunday, noon ET
Carb Day, May 27• Blount: The weekend's best race is ...
• Hinton: Foyt legend still strong in 2011
• Gallery: A.J. Foyt, A Racing Life
• Hinton from 1991: The last ride of A.J. Foyt
• Hinton on the Field of the Century front row
• Hinton's Indy 500 Field of the Century: Row 1
• Oreovicz blog: Ganassi team leads Carb Day
• espnW: Patrick's mom, Bev, enjoying ride
• Blount blog: The way Mario Andretti sees it
• Ed Hinton chat wrap
• John Oreovicz chat wrap
• Podcast: Brent Musburger previews the race
• Podcast: Helio Castroneves is ready to roll
• SportsNation: Indy 500 predictions
Features• Oreovicz: Breaking down the field of 33
• Blount: Bumping Junqueira saved jobs
• James: Women find a niche in IndyCar
• SportsNation quiz: All-time lap leaders
• Indy 500 preview photo gallery
• James: No stopping Simona
• Blount: Indy shows NASCAR how it's done
• James: Women drivers carving a niche
• Oreovicz: Danica dodges Bump Day disaster
• James: A stormy day at the track for Danica
• Oreovicz: Wild and wacky Pole Day
• Oreovicz: Month of May primer
Practice And Qualifying• Danica makes 500 field
• Carpentier crashes in Sunday practice
• Tagliani wins Indy 500 pole
• Briscoe crashes in Saturday practice
• Di Silvestro cleared to race
• Castroneves tops speed charts
• Tagliani leads Friday at over 228 mph
• De Silvestro waiting for medical clearance
• Power leads Thursday practice
• De Silvestro burns hands in crash
• Rain scrubs practice again Wednesday
• Weather limits practice Tuesday
• Tagliani turns month's fastest lap Monday
• Opening Sunday washed out
• Opening day starts fast
Indy 500 Field Of The Century• Hinton: The method in our list
• Row 1: Foyt, Lockhart, Vukovich
• Row 2: Ma. Andretti, Mears, A. Unser
• Row 3: Shaw, Jones, DePalma
• Row 4: Meyer, B. Unser, Rutherford
• Row 5: Ward, Johncock, Fittipaldi
• Row 6: Rose, Unser Jr., Milton
• Row 7: Clark, Mi. Andretti, Villenueve
• Row 8: Luyendyk, Hill, Harroun
• Row 9: Castroneves, Franchitti, Montoya
• Row 10: Ruby, Donohue, Sullivan
• Row 11: Flaherty, Kanaan, Hurtubise
• The Social Pioneers
Indy At 100• Indy at 100: 2000 and beyond
• Indy at 100: Tony George reigns in the '90s
• Indy at 100: 1980s had stars, foreign cars
• Indy at 100: Speed and safety in the '70s
• Indy at 100: A time of change
• Indy at 100: The '50s golden era
• Indy at 100: WWII puts racing on hold
• Indy at 100: 1930-39 a dangerous era
• Indy at 100: 1920-29 a roaring time
• Indy at 100: 1911-1919 was pivotal
• Indianapolis Motor Speedway timeline
More• Indy 500 front row chat wrap
• John Oreovicz chat wrap
• Danica not tipping hand on future
• Foyt, Mears, Unser top "greatest" fan poll
• Scott Speed joins Dragon Racing
• A.J. Foyt will drive Indy 500 pace car
• China's Ho-Pin Tung eyes Indy 500
• Indy 500 to honor Tom Carnegie
• Buddy Rice heading back to Indy 500
Indy 500 Rewind• 2010 Flashback: Dario's all the way back
• 2009 Flashback: Castroneves wins again
• 2008 Flashback: Quiet Dixon makes noise • 2007 Flashback: Franchitti comes up big
• 2006 Flashback: Hornish gets his "Holy Grail"