Friday, May 11, 2012

McClure On `Dega Crash: "I Just Braced For Impact."

Eric McClure spoke to the media Friday at Darlington (SC) Raceway for the first time since being helicoptered out of Talladega Superspeedway after a violent NASCAR Nationwide Series crash last Saturday afternoon.

McClure sustained a concussion and internal bruising after crashing head-on into the inside wall during the multi-car backstretch wreck; a crash magnified by brake failure on his Hefty/Reynolds Wrap Toyota.

Eric McClure
"I remember bits and pieces of it," said McClure today. "(My memory is) certainly spotty at times after the impact. I remember being really excited. We were in a good position (and) I felt like we had an opportunity for our first Top-10. We were in a pack… and I saw the smoke ahead of me and went to hit the brake pedal and the brakes were not there. It was a little bit of a heart-sinking feeling. It created the impression that I was speeding up or going faster than everyone when I hit, which obviously I was.

“I remember getting hit by someone and going toward the wall,” said McClure. “At that point, I just braced for impact. That's really all I remember." NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp confirmed that officials found a mechanical failure with McClure's brakes in the aftermath of the crash.

McClure, who spent three nights under observation at University of Alabama Birmingham Medical Center, said he believes HANS devices, SAFER barriers and improvements in car construction in recent seasons prevented his injuries from being more serious. “I’m definitely sore and battling some things,” admitted McClure. “(But) I'm thankful to be here and certainly very thankful for the safety initiatives.”

While NASCAR has not released any black box data from the crash, McClure said he has been told the impact registered a "really high number" on an in-car data recorder.

McClure was flown to UAB Hospital
He revealed there is no immediate timetable for his return, but that he plans to be evaluated by a NASCAR-approved neurosurgeon next week. The sanctioning body requires that drivers who sustain on-track concussions be cleared before returning to competition. He characterized his status as “week to week," and while others might question his decision to return to the cockpit, McClure said he has never second-guessed his line of work. "I live to race," he said. "Sometimes I question how good I am, but I never had a doubt about (competing). I look forward to going through the process NASCAR has laid out and getting the right clearance."
Former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Jeff Green will replace McClure in tonight’s “VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200. Green has 18 career series starts at "The Lady in Black," with one win, five Top-5 and nine Top-10 finishes there.

For now, McClure said he will concentrate on healing and reassuring his four daughters – who range in age from two months to five years old -- about his eventual return to the sport. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't affect the eldest daughter just a little bit," he said. "They were at the track but didn't see it live. Fortunately, my wife is a nurse. She's had experience with this. I'd hate to have them go though anything like that (again).

"The three-year old brought stethoscopes in and said she'd make my heart better and try to rub the bruises,” he said. “I think they are doing OK with it."

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