- Associated Press - Saturday, March 16, 2013

BRISTOL, TENN. (AP) - Michael Annett was back at the track Saturday as a spectator, unable to drive his Richard Petty Motorsports car in the Nationwide Series race because of a fractured and dislocated sternum.

He was injured in a crash during last month’s season-opener at Daytona and spent a night in the hospital before returning home to North Carolina, where doctors discovered the severity of his injury. Emergency surgery followed and Annett is sidelined indefinitely.

Now questions remain as to what caused Annett’s injuries as NASCAR, RPM and seat belt manufacturer Schroth investigate the accident.

“The steering wheel hadn’t moved, it wasn’t bent,” Annett said at Bristol Motor Speedway. “There wasn’t a mark on the helmet, a mark on the suit. It was pretty much my body stayed where it was supposed to and my sternum tried to come out of my chest. That’s all we do know. Everything did its job. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be standing here.

“We sat in a meeting this week and saw pictures of a brand new set of belts and then my belts after the wreck and everything was correct. It was six-point harness. NASCAR is working on implementing a seven-point harness, which is something I’m definitely going to look into, but, right now, everything did its job.”

Reed Sorenson is driving Annett’s car until he can return, and doctors believe he could be sidelined eight weeks. But Annett hopes to get back in the car at least a week earlier than planned based on how well he’s felt.

“I was doing better until I got a cold and found out that sneezing is about the most painful thing there is,” Annett said. “But other than that, I’m doing good. Honestly, I feel like I could be putting my suit on right now. We all heal differently. They said eight weeks, but they also said I would be in the ICU all night and I was there for 30 minutes. So hopefully, we can turn that eight weeks into six or seven.”

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