RICHMOND, VA. Jerry Nadeau was in intensive care with head, lung and rib injuries from a crash in Winston Cup practice, but his vital signs were "very good," team general manager Jay Frye said Saturday.
Nadeau remained in critical condition a day after the crash at Richmond International Raceway. He has not spoken since the accident, Frye said, but has been communicating with visitors despite being sedated.
"He was aware that I was there," said Frye, who has seen the 32-year-old driver three times since the accident in practice Friday. Frye said Nadeau acknowledged his presence by squeezing Frye's hand.
"He looks phenomenal," Frye said. "Once I went in to see him and left, it made a world of difference to me. You go in not knowing what to expect, and then you see -- there's your guy. Everything's OK."
Nadeau continues to undergo a series of tests, Frye said, but he could not specify what those tests were or what they have shown to this point. He would not say whether Nadeau was breathing on his own.
"We're very encouraged," he said. "We'll know so much more tonight or tomorrow morning. We feel like he's in great, great care," Frye said.
Nadeau suffered a partially collapsed left lung and rib injuries.
The driver was injured during the final practice for Saturday night's Pontiac Excitement 400 when his car skidded entering the first turn, spun and slammed into the wall.
Rescue crews sawed the roof off his Pontiac, and the driver from Danbury, Conn., did not appear to be moving when he was lifted from the car . He was being given oxygen through a bag, and his neck was in a brace. His uniform appeared to have been removed when he was loaded onto a helicopter and taken to Medical College of Virginia Hospitals.
NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Nadeau was wearing a HANS device, a head and neck restraint made mandatory in October 2001 -- eight months after the death of seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt.
"It's not the safest sport," said Kyle Petty, whose 19-year-old son Adam was killed in a crash while practicing for a Busch Series race at Loudon, N.H., in May 2000.
"But we know that, and we accept that."