Mikhail Aleshin injures chest, head

FONTANA, Calif. -- Rookie IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin was taken away from the track in an ambulance and airlifted to a hospital Friday night after a frightening crash in the final practice session for the series' season finale.

Aleshin was conscious and alert and was taken to nearby Loma Linda University Medical Center, an IndyCar spokesperson said.

INDYCAR confirmed early Saturday morning that Aleshin was admitted to the hospital in serious but stable condition, and his injuries included fractured ribs, a broken right clavicle, a concussion and chest injuries.

At least three drivers played a role in the crash in Turn 4 at Fontana, which had a gaping hole in the catch fencing and a wheel wrapped in the fence after Aleshin's car violently flew up against it.

Aleshin, who drives for SMP Motorsports, spun when he went below the white line in the turn. The Russian driver slid back up the track and collided with Charlie Kimball in a shower of sparks and smoke, sending Aleshin's car flying into the catch fence while spinning.

Debris was strewn all over the track as safety personnel gathered around the wreck of Aleshin's car. He was removed on a stretcher.

Kimball was checked and released from the infield care center and was cleared to drive. He updated his status and sent his sympathies to Aleshin on Twitter:

Aleshin is the first Russian driver in IndyCar history, joining a team with title contender Simon Pagenaud this year after a career in open-wheel racing in Europe. He is 15th in the overall points standings with seven top-10 finishes this season, including a career-best second-place finish at the second Grand Prix of Houston race in June.

Aleshin, 27, also had several run-ins with Sebastien Bourdais earlier in the season, and he was involved in an unusual crash with Juan Pablo Montoya in Toronto.

Montoya was stalled in a tire barrier when Aleshin spun into the back of his car. Aleshin then slid under Montoya, leaving tire marks on Aleshin's helmet and requiring a tow truck to lift Montoya's car off Aleshin.

The 2-mile Fontana track is a fast, high-banked oval with well-worn, bumpy and occasionally dusty asphalt, providing a challenge even for veteran drivers. Helio Castroneves won the pole for Saturday's race with an average speed of more than 218 mph in his qualifying lap Friday, when temperatures reached 100 degrees in Fontana.

The IndyCar series finale is scheduled for Saturday night. Aleshin was eighth in qualifying earlier Friday, easily the best finish by a rookie.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.