Simona de Silvestro has already won fans over at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and may just be the storyline of the weeks of practice leading up to the race. De Silvestro's team had spent months outfitting her Indy 500 car with the latest and greatest equipment and massaging it to the fullest in an effort to give her the best chance in the IRL's biggest race. But during a practice session on May 19, one of those expensive pieces of equipment snapped, triggering a horrifying crash that saw DeSilvestro hit the wall, get airborne and come to rest upside-down in a ball of fire.
De Silvestro escaped without major injury, but did sustain some serious burns on her hands. Since the accident, she's been forced to wear heavy wraps under her gloves and has been subjected to periodic scrapings that remove the dead skin but leave her in pain. Yet here she is, ready to run in the Indianapolis 500 after overcoming the physical pain and mental barriers in the aftermath of the crash to qualify for the race last Saturday.
On Sunday, de Silvestro will start 24th after clocking in at 224.392 miles per hour during the Saturday qualifying session, allowing her to skip Sunday's Bump Day to rest her still-healing hands. And will 500 miles of racing ahead, she'll need all the rest she can get ahead of what's sure to be an exhilarating, yet painful, race this weekend. But her perseverance and strength have already made her a fan-favorite at this year's Indianapolis 500.
For more on the race, stay with our 2011 Indy 500 StoryStream. Be sure to head over to Pop Off Valve for all things IndyCar, including the three excellent Indy 500 resources: The Indy 500 experience, Indy 500 traditions and the history of the Indy 500 and the Brickyard.