Todd Golden & David Hughes
TERRE HAUTE —
United States Auto Club Silver Crown driver Shane Hmiel suffered critical head injuries Saturday night in a one-car accident during qualifying for the Sumar Classic 100 at the Terre Haute Action Track.
According to Tribune-Star racing correspondent Joe Buckles, Hmiel’s red, white and blue No. 17 Silver Crown car slammed into the outside wall between Turns 3 and 4.
The car lost control enterting the turn, rolled over several times, and came to rest in the track itself, according to a USAC spokesman.
There was damage to the protective roll cage that shields the driver from harm during accidents, but to what extent the roll cage was damaged is not known at press time. It is believed that the roll cage was damaged on impact with the wall.
Hmiel, 30, of Pleasant Garden, N.C., remained in the vehicle through the duration of the accident.
Given that it was qualifying, there were no other cars on the track at the time of the accident.
Hmiel was transferred from Terre Haute to Indianapolis’ Methodist Hospital where he is listed in critical condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit at press time.
“We are very concerned about Shane and offer our resources and our support to his family during this time of healing,” said USAC President/CEO Kevin Miller in the press release.
Hmiel is a former Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Dash Series in 2001. From 2002 to 2003, he raced in the NASCAR Busch Series, but was suspended in September 2003 due to a failed drug test.
After being reinstated, Hmiel raced NASCAR Trucks in 2004 before he earned a NASCAR Sprint Cup ride in 2005 with Bill Davis Racing. However, Hmiel failed another drug test in 2005 and another failed drug test in 2006 saw Hmiel banned for life from NASCAR.
Hmiel has found redemption in the sprint car ranks. Sober for three years, Hmiel was USAC’s Most Improved Driver in 2009. He won a Silver Crown race in the Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds this season.
Hmiel was third in USAC’s Silver Crown standings going into Saturday’s race.
He is the son of one-time NASCAR sprint car crew chief Steve Hmiel.
The Sumar Classic went on as scheduled. Levi Jones won the race and Bryan Clauson was second to complete a 1-2 sweep of Tony Stewart-owned cars.
An announcement was made the track before the Sumar Classic feature race imploring fans to keep Hmiel in their prayers.