Two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden is awake and alert after suffering a head abrasion following his exit from Sunday’s Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 at Iowa Speedway, a race won by Pato O’Ward.
According to Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Newgarden was airlifted to a local hospital in Des Moines for further evaluation after falling outside the Team Penske transporter.
Prior to this, Newgarden had already visited the infield care center following a gut-punching crash on Lap 236 while leading.
He and Will Power dominated the majority of the race, lapping a large chunk of the field. However, Newgarden’s bid for a series-leading fifth win in 12 races went south when a sudden mechanical failure in Turn 3 saw the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet careen into the wall, bringing out the second and final caution of the afternoon.
Newgarden was checked and released from the infield care center, holding back his emotions on what could have been a monumental weekend in his quest for a third Astor Cup.
“It definitely was a bit of a shot. I want to cry,” said Newgarden, who led a race-high 148 of 300 laps. “I’m so sad for my team. I don’t know what happened. It was a good run. It’s just one race but I feel terrible for us. Team Chevy and Hitachi guys did a great job. Something went wrong there.”
Earlier in the race, Newgarden had a vibration in his No. 2 Chevrolet but commented that it was pretty normal and his tire balances were shifting. Otherwise, things felt fine to him as the foregone conclusion of a mechanical failure remained unknown.
“It’s very possible that we had a mismatched set or something. It wasn’t diabolical whatsoever. Actually, everything felt just fine,” said Newgarden. “It was totally unexpected when it happened. It caught me by surprise. I didn’t know what happened until I was in the wall.”
Prior to the crash, Newgarden had taken the championship lead over Marcus Ericsson by 10 points. It would have been the first time since winning at Long Beach that he would have moved onto the next round as the man IndyCar racers would have to beat.
Instead of sweeping the Iowa doubleheader, his exit resulted in a 24th-place finish. He sits tied for third in points going into the Gallagher Grand Prix at Indianapolis. With Newgarden’s four wins to Dixon’s one, he has the tiebreaker and trails Ericsson by 34 points.
All of that remains irrelevant following the events that happened after Newgarden’s fall. Dr. Billows commented that he was transported to Des Moines via helicopter because of its proximity.
“It’s a 45-minute drive,” said Dr. Billows. “We have the concert and traffic that we were afraid that it’s going to be delayed. The helicopter is just sitting there.”
As far as the Lap 236 crash, he confirmed that Newgarden was fine and planned on being checked again Thursday. It’s a result of the high g-forces from the accident but did not show evidence of concussion-like symptoms.
At the end of the day, Dr. Billows noted that Newgarden was communicating with the medical staff following his collapse.
UPDATE AS OF JULY 24 (11:00 p.m. ET): Team Penske issued a statement later in the day that Newgarden sustained a cut on the back of his head, but all scans came out negative and will be staying overnight for further observation. Newgarden will be reevaluated by the INDYCAR medical staff on Thursday, as initially planned by Dr. Billows.
UPDATE AS OF JULY 25 (12:15 p.m. ET): On Monday, Newgarden was released from the hospital. Team Penske announced that Santino Ferrucci will be on standby should Newgarden not be cleared to race in the Gallagher Grand Prix.
UPDATE AS OF JULY 28 (5:50 p.m. ET): Following an evaluation with Dr. Billows, Newgarden was given the greenlight to partake in Friday’s practice session at Indianapolis. Newgarden will then be re-evaluated after the session to see if he’ll be cleared to qualify and compete in the 85-lap race.