HOUSTON Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will need a second surgery on the broken right ankle he suffered when his car went airborne into the fence on the last lap of the Grand Prix of Houston on Sunday.
Franchitti also fractured two vertebrae and sustained a concussion. He had surgery on the ankle Sunday night and is expected to return to Indianapolis on Wednesday for the second surgery.
"Thank you to everyone for all the well wishes. They mean a lot to me," Franchitti said in a statement from Target Chip Ganassi Racing. "I would also like to send my best to all the fans involved in the accident and hope that everyone is all right."
Thirteen fans and an IndyCar official were injured by debris that flew into the grandstand. Two people were taken to a hospital; Tony Kanaan tweeted a picture of himself and fellow driver Scott Dixon visiting one of the fans and wrote: "Glad to see everybody is ok."
The accident occurred when Franchitti ran into the back of Takuma Sato's car and launched into the fence. Sato appeared to have a problem with his car and was limping toward the finish when Franchitti quickly came up behind him in Turn 5.
The force of the crash tore apart a section of the fence and showered debris into the grandstand, which had a second fence in front of the fans. Franchitti's car ricocheted back onto the track and spun several times before stopping. E.J. Viso hit Sato's car as he came upon the scene, and the three wrecked cars and broken parts and pieces clogged the course.
IndyCar threw the yellow flag, ending the race under caution, but drivers still had to navigate their way through the wreckage on their way back to pit road. It created a scene reminiscent of Dan Wheldon's fatal 2011 crash in Las Vegas, where competitors had to drive past Wheldon's car and through the debris.
It was a sobering moment for Houston winner Will Power, who broke his back in the Las Vegas crash, and for Dixon, Franchitti's teammate. Dixon, who took control of the IndyCar championship race, passed Franchitti's car and waved in an attempt to get an update on his condition.
Power watched replays of the accident on the big screen and said the accident reminded him of Las Vegas, where he and Wheldon sailed into the fence.
"I just saw Dario's car and him sitting in it with a lot of damage, and yes, that's what it reminded me of," Power said. "I hate seeing that. We try to keep these cars on the ground."
NASCAR Three-time Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart is recovering from a third surgery on his right leg.
Stewart-Haas Racing said the procedure was done Monday to examine and close a wound on his shin stemming from the broken tibia and fibula he suffered in a sprint car crash Aug. 5 at Southern Iowa Speedway.