Schu comeback stalls

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

Spurred on by hope more than reality, millions of Michael Schumacher/Ferrari fans were bitterly disappointed when the seven-time world champion announced his Formula One comeback was over.

Right from the start of this exercise, experts, including his own manager Willy Weber, were saying a serious neck injury suffered this past February during a German superbike test at Cartagena in Spain would keep Schumacher out of the F2009 car at the European Grand Prix on Aug. 23 as a replacement for injured driver Felipe Massa.

And this week Schumacher, himself, came to the same conclusion after a series of medical tests. He broke the news to the Tifosi (supporters) on his own website.

"(Monday) evening, I had to inform Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and team principal Stefano Domenicali that unfortunately I'm not able to step in for Felipe," he wrote.

"I really tried everything to make that temporary comeback possible, however, much to my regret it didn't work out. Unfortunately, we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in my neck which occurred after the private F-1 day in Mugello, even if medically or therapeutically we tried everything possible."

Schumacher fingered his ill-advised superbike experiment as the culprit in the saga.

"The consequences of the injuries caused by the bike-accident in February, fractures in the area of head and neck, unfortunately have turned out to be still too severe," he wrote.

"That is why my neck cannot stand the extreme stresses caused by Formula One yet. These are the clear results of the examinations we did on the course of the past two weeks and the final examination (Monday) afternoon.

"I am disappointed to the core. I am awfully sorry for the guys of Ferrari and for all the fans which crossed fingers for me. I can only repeat that I tried everything that was within my power. All I can do now is to keep my fingers crossed for the whole team for the coming races."

Schumacher, who won 91 races in 250 starts in an F-1 career spanning 15 years will go down in history as one of the top five drivers to compete in the series. His comeback might have put that legacy in doubt, so it says here he made the right decision.

Ferrari announced that team test driver Luca Badoer, 38, of Italy, will race in Massa's place at Valencia.

Miracle at The Glen

Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon has some serious injury woes himself this season.

And this week's horrific crash at Watkins Glen International in the dying moments of the Helluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen, likely will set back his recovery from a previous lower-back injury.

The wreck began when Kasey Kahne's No. 9 Dodge pushed wide coming out of Turn 5, shoving the No. 77 Dodge of Sam Hornish Jr. into the tire barrier at about 150 m.p.h.

The impact bounced Hornish's car back on to the track, where it started spinning and was hit almost broadside by Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet. A fraction of a second later Hornish was hit again, this time by the No. 31 Chevrolet of Jeff Burton. The crash also impacted Joey Logano and rookie Andy Lally.

The miracle was that all of the drivers involved in the crash walked away from the debris-strewn track. Only Gordon will suffer much of an after effect.

"I'm hurting. Everything feels good except my lower back, where I've already had issues," he said. "My back can't stand too many hits. It will just take a couple of weeks for it to heal. By then, we'll go to Bristol (Aug. 22) and get through that, then we'll be all right."

It's a testament to the rigorous safety standards of NASCAR that further, more serious injuries, were avoided.


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