Speaking at Monday night’s Indy 500 Victory Celebration banquet, Kirkwood paid tribute to the AMR safety crew and all the medical team at IndyCar, having been trapped upside down after sliding along the track following the Turn 2 crash when he clipped a spinning Felix Rosenqvist.
The second year driver, who scored his maiden IndyCar win at this year's Long Beach round, was eventually classified 28th.
“When I first had the impact, it was about 80G, obviously you’re flying around a little bit inside the car,” said Kirkwood.
“I think my right knee hit the steering column and banged it up a little bit.
“But 20 minutes later I’m walking around just fine. Thankfully I was OK.
“I have to thank IndyCar Medical. What you guys have done in the past 20 years is absolutely phenomenal, to have these wrecks to walk away from, hats off to you guys, you’re awesome.”
When asked to explain the accident, in which his right-rear wheel was torn from his car upon impact with Rosenqvist and flew over the debris fence, he replied: “It felt like an eternity to be honest.
“I saw Felix go high and into the wall, and the most common thing is for a car to stay up in the wall and ride into Turn 2.
Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport Honda
Photo by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images
“But his car came down, so in my mind he committed low, and my spotter is saying ‘ho high, go high’ so I committed to that and Santino [Ferrucci] is slowing down too, so it was a small gap whether I could miss around Felix as he was spinning and not hit Santino, because if I woulda went any higher I’d be in the wall myself.
“So it was a super-unfortunate situation.”
Kirkwood felt that he was in the reckoning for the win on Sunday until the crash, having worked his way through the field and bounced back from a slow pitstop.
“We started 15th and drove all the way up to second a the last stop, and we felt we had a race-winning Andretti Autosport car there,” he said.
“I was very hopeful [of the win], we went from 12th to second in one stint but had a little bit of a slow stop, but I think sixth was plenty high enough to contend in those last 17 laps.”
Team-mate Colton Herta, who was Andretti’s best-placed finisher in ninth, also felt he was in the mix for victory until he collided in the pits with team-mate Romain Grosjean, and was given an unsafe release penalty.
“It was crazy,” he said. “I started 21st and got up to fifth, sorry to Romain for running into you in the pits, back to 28th, a lap down, and then up to ninth by the end.
“Had a great car, a car that I think was able to win, so it stings to be talking about ninth place.”2023-05-30T19:34:24Z dg43tfdfdgfd