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Mon, 24 Sep 2007, 09:04 PM

Force Undergoing Physical Therapy Following Texas Crash
Courtesy of Dave Densmore

DALLAS -- John Force, seriously injured Sunday in the crash of his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car during the 22nd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, was undergoing physical therapy Monday at Baylor University Medical Center following six hours of reconstructive surgery Sunday night on his feet, legs and hands.

The 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion suffered a compound fracture of the left ankle, a deep laceration of the right knee down to the bone, broken fingers and lacerations on the right hand and a dislocated left wrist that originally was diagnosed as a dislocation and break.

The 125-time tour winner's injuries were tended by Alan Jones, M.D., orthopedic traumatologist, Michael Foreman, M.D., chief of trauma services, and David Zehr, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and hand specialist.

"We don't really know what went wrong," Force said Monday after viewing video of the crash for the first time. "I don't remember much. I remember thinking that I had to cut a light to beat (rival) Kenny Bernstein. The next thing I remember is them trying to get me out of the car."

Force's race car broke in half just beyond the finish line at the end of a victorious second round. The front half of the car then shot across the center line, crashing into Bernstein's Dodge, separating the carbon fiber body from the chassis. Meanwhile, the back half of Force's car, with the 58-year-old driver still strapped in the seat, came to rest on its side against the leftside guardwall.

"I was worried about Bernstein," Force said, "because I knew he was in the other lane. I didn't want to hurt anybody, especially Kenny. He's a good friend and a great competitor - and he did nothing wrong. In fact, he did a great driving job.

"I'm just lucky to have my legs. I gnawed off some fingers and toes, but they had me up trying to stand today. They're great people here at Baylor and I know they'll get me up and around as soon as they can.

"The car pulled in half and I've never seen that, ever. A tire came off the car just as I put the parachutes out and it literally pulled the car apart. I just feel so helpless and vulnerable. I've been on fire from here to Australia. I've had some burns, but I've gotten out of every crash and never had a scratch. I've never had a broken bone (before) so this is all new to me."

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