DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Billy Venturini promised a return to the ARCA Re/Max Series after breaking his neck during a 17-car crash at Daytona International Speedway.
Although he fractured his second vertebrae, his team said he didn't suffer any paralysis.
Venturini was part of a massive crash along the backstretch Saturday night on the second-to-last lap. Joey Miller bumped J.J. Yeley racing to the white flag, causing Miller to slow down. That triggered a chain reaction that littered a half-mile stretch with race cars.
The second-generation driver from Chicago underwent surgery Sunday morning to stabilize the vertebrae and repair an injured ligament. Doctors at Halifax Medical Center also planned to install a head and neck Halo to secure the fracture.
"Venturini is expected to make a 100 percent recovery giving him full mobility," the family said through a release. "Venturini is in good spirits and looking forward to making a full recovery and getting back onto the track as soon as possible. Venturini Motorsports and veteran crew chief Troy Selberg are both committed to moving forward with the 2005 Re/Max Series racing schedule."
The injury isn't new to the Venturini family. His father, Bill Venturini, a legendary ARCA driver, suffered the same type of fracture in 1989 during his first NASCAR career start at Michigan International Speedway. The elder Venturini came back to win the ARCA championship two years later.
Dan Shaver, another driver sent to Halifax from the 17-car crash, was treated and released late Saturday.
Four photographers injured on pit road when Blake Feese slid 20 feet past and behind his pit stall were released following treatment. Three - freelancer Pierce Williams, T. Taylor Warren of Southern Motor Racing and Fernando Medina of Reuters - walked out of the infield care center, while freelancer Steve Rose was released from Halifax late Saturday.
The race originally was scheduled for 80 laps, but it was shorted to 65 after crashed caused delays for cleanup and repairs to the catch fence in front of the main grandstands.
MAKING THE CUT: John Andretti qualified 18th for the Daytona 500 and it was good enough to lock him into the starting lineup.
Under the sport's unique qualifying format for this week's race, the top 35 teams from last year's standings were guaranteed a spot in next Sunday's race, as well as the four-fastest qualifiers from outside that group.
The final four spots will come from two 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday. The four drivers who made the cut on speed Sunday included Jason Leffler in seventh, Boris Said in 11th, Mike Skinner in 13th and Andretti.
There are 18 drivers who still haven't qualified for the race. Nine of them will be in the first qualifying race; nine are in the second. The top-two finishers from both races will move into the starting lineup.
PETTY CHARGES: There were six Chevrolets and four Fords among the top 10 qualifiers Sunday.
The best Dodge was driven by Kyle Petty. After failing to qualify for last July's Pepsi 400 at Daytona, Petty ran 186.974 mph to be 12th overall and first in class.
Reach Don Coble at email@example.com