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Fittipaldi Injured in Michigan Wreck

July 28, 1996

BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) _ Emerson Fittipaldi was left with a fractured vertebra and a partially collapsed lung Sunday after his fiery car crashed early in the Marlboro 500.

The 49-year-old Brazilian driver was examined at the medical facility on the infield of Michigan International Speedway before being taken to Foote Hospital at nearby Jackson.

X-rays showed Fittipaldi had a fracture of the seventh cervical vertebra and partially collapsed left lung. He was transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, the regional trauma and spinal cord treatment center.

Dr. Steve Olvey, the Indy-car medical director, said none of Fittipaldi’s injuries was considered serious and emphasized he was moving all his extremities.

``There’s no impingement on his spinal cord,″ Olvey said. ``It’s going to need to be fixed. It’s going to impact his season.″

Fittipaldi had completed only one lap, and that under a caution flag, before going out of the race after the crash at the exit to the second turn.

Starter Jim Swintal deemed the field improperly aligned for a green flag start, so the first lap was run under yellow caution flag conditions.

Moments after getting the green flag, Fittipaldi was attempting to pass Canadian rookie Greg Moore on the high side when his left rear clipped Moore’s right front tire.

Moore’s car didn’t appear damaged, and he remained in the race.

Fittipaldi’s car went backward into the wall, flames streaming from the car. The car slid along the wall, all the way to the third turn. However, Fittipaldi kept his car on the wall, and all the other cars were able to get past without damage.

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