The scariest moment of Sunday's Izod IndyCar Long Beach Grand Prix involved Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti and invoked some unnerving flashbacks to the last race of 2011.
As Andretti moved to overtake Rahal, he catapulted over Rahal's right rear tire and went airborne, thankfully landing right side up before spinning and slamming into the tire barriers. Andretti was unhurt, though he emerged from the car grabbing his left wrist.
It was the first time that an IndyCar has been airborne in a race since the fiery crash that took the life of Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October, and the first time that the new DW12 chassis -- named in honor of Wheldon -- had experienced that type of a real-world crash.
The DW12 chassis features rear wheel protectors behind the back wheels to hopefully prevent these type of incidents. Unfortunately, they seemed no deterrent, as Andretti's car appeared to easily vault over Rahal's. Both drivers placed the blame on the other, with Andretti offering this after the race:
"That was our stint to make hay and we were trying to do so," Andretti said. "It's one thing blocking but it's another thing chopping, and that was a chop. I'm lucky I didn't get upside down, I could have been killed."
Understandably, Andretti and others have been shaken by the loss of Wheldon. While we know all too well that the possibility of death still exists in auto racing, it's still jarring every time a driver references the notion after a crash, no matter the severity.
Thankfully, both drivers were OK. And hopefully we're not seeing any other cars airborne anytime soon.