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Saturday, September 3, 2005
Venables, Pendergrass sustain minor injuries

ESPN.com news services

CLERMONT, Ind. -- Q Racing Nitro Funny Car crew chief Dickie Venables and crew member Cody Pendergrass were treated and released from the infield care center following a scary starting-line incident during qualifying for this weekend's U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Just prior to his second-round qualifying pass, driver Tony Pedregon was having trouble completing his burnout. Pendergrass, who services the engine, went to inspect the injector area when trouble arose.

"The threads under the injectors were sticking, so I wanted to take a look," Pendergrass said. "I tried to jockey it around to get the blades unhinged, but it accidentally lifted the body. It caught the throttle and the car lunged forward. All I remember is being hit and toppling over."

The car's frame and body were both damaged after impact with the inside retaining wall.

Pendergrass, from nearby Indianapolis, suffered a few bumps and bruises and lost a tooth in the incident. He quickly returned to the team after being released from infield care center.

"It's dangerous when you work around things like that," he continued. "I'm OK, other than my tooth and a couple of bruises."

Venables, 41, suffered first- and second-degree burns, along with a few minor bruises and a chipped tooth. Once he was released from the infield care center, Venables returned the Q Racing pit area to help rebuild and set up the car for the third round of qualifying.

"It hurt my pride more than anything," Venables said. "It's just one of those things and I'm happy everyone is OK. When something like that happens, it catches you by surprise.

"I remember the car going by me, and the exhaust flames burning my legs," Venables continued. "Basically, it's a bad sunburn."

Both the frame and body had to be replaced.