IndyCar: Major decision looming ahead of Indy race

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, IndyCar (Photo Credit: The Des Moines Register)
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, IndyCar (Photo Credit: The Des Moines Register) /

Thursday is set to determine whether or not Josef Newgarden can compete in this Saturday afternoon’s IndyCar race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden went from being a few dozen laps away from sweeping the IndyCar weekend at Iowa Speedway, taking the championship lead, and becoming the first driver to win five races in a single season in more than a half-decade, to being questionable to compete in this coming Saturday afternoon’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Mere seconds after being referred to as the “King of Corn Country” on lap 235 of last Sunday afternoon’s 300-lap Hy-Vee Salute to Farms 300 at the four-turn, 0.894-mile (1.439-kilometer) oval in Newton, Iowa, Newgarden, a four-time winner at the track and the winner of Saturday afternoon’s 250-lap 250, became victim of a part failure and found himself making hard contact with the turn four wall.

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The driver of the #2 Chevrolet was checked and released from the infield care center, but shortly thereafter, he fainted and suffered a cut on his head.

He was airlifted to a nearby hospital for further tests and evaluations, and while all the important tests (specifically regarding potential brain injuries) came back negative, he was observed overnight.

In order to be allowed to compete in Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix, Newgarden must be cleared by IndyCar medical staff on Thursday.

Newgarden has not missed a start since his rookie season, when he sat out the September 2012 race on the streets of Baltimore following a nasty crash at Sonoma Raceway.

Team Penske announced earlier this week that Santino Ferrucci is on standby for the team in the event that Newgarden isn’t cleared. Ferrucci, a former full-time driver for Dale Coyne Racing, has made three starts this year, including two as a relief driver for two different teams.

Newgarden sits in third place in the championship standings with five of the season’s 17 races remaining, so this decision could have huge ramifications. He also owns one win at the 13-turn, 2.439-mile (3.925-kilometer) Speedway, Indiana road course which is set to host Saturday afternoon’s race, that coming back in October 2020.

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The Gallagher Grand Prix is set to be broadcast live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on NBC beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET this Saturday, July 30. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now if you haven’t yet done so!