Meira breaks back in crash with Matos
INDIANAPOLIS -- Veteran Vitor Meira has broken two vertebrae in his lower back and will spend at least two days in an Indianapolis hospital after a scary crash late in the Indy 500.
In the closing laps, Meira, last year's runner-up, collided with rookie Raphael Matos, sending Meira's car sliding along the wall on two wheels.
Track officials say Meira will be fitted for a back brace at Methodist Hospital, where he was taken for further evaluation. He's not expected to have surgery. Earlier in the race, Meira's car caught on fire on pit road.
Matos bruised his right knee and was released from the infield medical center.
Theirs was the last, but hardly the only, accident of the day.
Another Indy, another way for the Andretti curse to strike.
And another heartbreak for Tony Kanaan.
The Brazilian driver's streak of leading the Indianapolis 500 seven straight years came to an abrupt halt Sunday when he hit the wall hard coming out of the third turn on the 98th lap.
"Something broke in the middle of the straightaway," said Kanaan, who was running third at the time of the wreck. "I just put my head on the headrest and took a ride. I'm pretty much beat up."
In Kanaan's first seven tries on the famed 2.5-mile Brickyard oval, the annual prerace favorite has five finishes of 12th or better, including third in 2003, second in 2004, eighth in 2005 and fifth in 2006.
Last year, he went from leading the race to crashing out of it just past the halfway point when teammate Marco Andretti crowded him in a turn. Kanaan brushed the wall, collided with Sarah Fisher and finished 29th.
Sunday's race had barely started when Mario Moraes drifted to the outside and made contact with Andretti, sending both cars into the wall going into the second turn.
"The kid doesn't get it, and he never will," Andretti said, blaming Moraes for the crash. "He's just clueless out there."
When a TV crew told Moraes what Andretti had to say, Moraes was visibly upset.
"I know the 26 hit me, OK? I was in front," he said. "I was holding my line, and he just hit me. I don't know from where."
Neither driver was hurt, and Andretti went back out on the track on lap 61.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was the next driver out, hitting the wall in turn four on his 20th lap.
"It was completely my fault," Hunter-Reay said. "I think A.J. [Foyt IV] was having some handling problems. I slowed down too much, and I was just following too close. Once I got into his wake, I was just a passenger."
Graham Rahal, son of former Indy winner Bobby Rahal, crashed on the 56th lap. He started fourth and was running fifth when his car went high coming out of the fourth turn and hit the wall. He was not injured.
It's the second year in a row Rahal has been sidelined by a crash. Last year, as a 19-year-old rookie, he crashed on the 37th lap, also in the fourth turn.
"I got mid-corner and the car just went straight. It was the same exact thing as last year," Rahal said. "I felt I was being patient. I thought I wasn't going to have any problem and all of a sudden it just went."
Davey Hamilton can relate after getting loose and wrecking later on the 83rd lap.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
93RD INDIANAPOLIS 500
It's May, but one more special than usual. The Centennial Era has begun at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the first major event of a three-year-long celebration is the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500. Recap
Coverage• Surround: 93rd Indianapolis 500
• Blount: Can five be far off for Helio?
• Blount: Helio a winner again
• Oreovicz: More Indy heartache
• Blount: Calmer, cooler Danica prevails
• Oreovicz: No shame for Wheldon
• Race day blog
• Meira breaks 2 vertebra in late crash
• Blount: Something special brewing
• Blount: Passion still fuels Penske
• Oreovicz: What are the odds?
• Kozak: A one-track drama
• Hinton: Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!
• Schwarb: Helio smiling again
• Oreovicz: Danica 5.0, new and improved
• Oreovicz: Bump Day thrill ride
• Schwarb: John Andretti in, but spent
• Oreovicz blog: Long third day with late payoff
• Blount: Dario back where he belongs
• Schwarb: Wheldon slow out of the gate
• Oreovicz: Sharp races in under the gun
• Oreovicz: Helio out front on ho-hum day
• Schwarb: A very good year for Helio
• Oreovicz: Let's get rolling
• Hinton: Bringing it "home" in Indiana
• Petty returns to Indy as owner
• Surround Flashback: Dixon wins in 2008
Practice And Qualifying• Andretti, Hunter-Reay OK on Bump Day
• Doornbos tops third-round qualifying
• Matos makes field as other rookies crash
• Castroneves blitzes to pole
• Doornbos again finds wall in practice
• Doornbos wrecks in practice
• Hunter-Reay crashes; Andretti fastest
• Three get on track before rain hits
• Doornbos leads Indy 500 rookies in test
• Rarely used vets to join rookies at Indy
Indy 500 Video• Banner day for Castroneves
• King For A Day: Petty arrives at Indy
• Indy At 100: Roger Penske
• Castroneves happy to be back
• The Allure Of Indy
• Indy at 100: Helio's first win
• Indy at 100: Danica Patrick
• Ready For Indy? The King prepares
• Indy at 100: Foyt's fourth
• Indy at 100: Juan Pablo Montoya
• Leave It To Cheever: ... and another thing
• Leave It To Cheever: Loose bricks
• Indy At 100: Rick Mears
• Castroneves wins pole for Indy 500
• See more Indy 500 video