Newgarden Cleared For Road America

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 24 2016
Josef Newgarden, right, has been cleared to drive this weekend. He was involved in a scary, grinding wreck two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway.

Josef Newgarden, right, has been cleared to drive this weekend. He was involved in a scary, grinding wreck two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Verizon IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden will return to his office Friday, less than two weeks after riding out a grinding crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

Newgarden was cleared Thursday to participate in Friday’s practice activity for the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

Newgarden will be re-evaluated following practice to determine a course of action for the remainder of the race weekend. Should Newgarden be unable to participate in qualifying or the race, Ed Carpenter Racing will have JR Hildebrand available at Road America to drive the No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet.

Newgarden sustained a fractured right clavicle in an incident during the rain-plagued and suspended Firestone 600 at TMS in Fort Worth on June 12. Newgarden since has been under the care of INDYCAR consultant Dr. Kevin Scheid at the Indiana Orthopedic Hospital.

Practice around the 4.048-mile/14-turn natural terrain layout will begin Friday at noon (EDT), with a live broadcast on NBC Sports Network. Sunday’s race is scheduled for 50 laps/202.4 miles. In addition to opening practice, NBCSN will air qualifying at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday on tape-delay. The race will be carried live Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

This weekend’s INDYCAR-sanctioned event marks the return of open-wheel racing to the track for the first time since Aug. 12, 2007, when Sebastien Bourdais won from pole position in the No. 1 McDonald’s Racing Team Newman/Haas Racing entry in an event sanctioned by the Champ Car World Series.

The track’s open-wheel qualifying record was set by Dario Franchitti at 1:39.866-seconds/145.924 mph in a Reynard/Honda on Aug. 19, 2000, when the race was run under sanction of the Championship Auto Racing Teams.

Newgarden’s grinding crash, triggered by rookie Conor Daly, was the lowlight of a frustrating weekend at TMS. INDYCAR and TMS officials finally pulled the plug on the event and rescheduled the20th edition of “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race” for Saturday, Aug. 27, as a one-day program. The schedule will include practice, a driver autograph session on the concourse and the remaining 177 of the scheduled 248 laps.

As per the INDYCAR rulebook, the rescheduled race will resume on Lap 72 with James Hinchcliffe and his No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in the lead. Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda is second while Mikhail Aleshin in the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda will restart third.

The rescheduled race on June 12, postponed from Saturday night, was red-flagged on Lap 71 when rain returned to an already saturated Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. At that point, TMS track workers were welding a patch over a hole in the frontstretch SAFER Barrier created when Newgarden’s No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet was slammed into the outside wall, twice, in an incident triggered by Daly.

Newgarden was airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas after the crash on Lap 42 around TMS’ high-banked, 1.5-mile quadoval. The 25-year-old rising star sustained a fractured right clavicle and a small fracture on his right hand after his car was hit and tipped onto its right side by Daly’s No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Dale Coyne Racing Honda.

Two laps after pitting for four Firestone tires and fuel, Newgarden’s day came to an abrupt halt on Lap 42 when the rear end of Daly’s No. 18 broke loose, snapping the front end to the right and into Newgarden’s car . The impact pushed Newgarden’s bright green Chevy onto its right side, and both cars continued sliding down the frontstretch before a second Newgarden impact into the SAFER Barrier.

Daly exited his car and walked away, but it took the series’ Holmatro Safety Team several minutes to extricate Newgarden from what was left of his car’s tub section. Newgarden gingerly got to his feet before slowly dropping to his knees and the pavement seconds later.

Daly took full responsibility after being evaluated in the track’s infield medical center. “It was all my mistake,” Daly said. “I should have recognized it but it was definitely a rookie mistake. I was trying to stay a little bit lower because I knew Josef was coming. Maybe by pinching it a little bit, I just put too much load on the right rear. While the car was quite good I was on the edge in (Turns) 3 and 4 all the time. I apologized to him in there (infield care center) because that was my mistake for sure.”

Following an evaluation on-site by Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Newgarden was sent to Parkland Memorial Hospital.

Additionally, Newgarden’s second impact punched a hole in the SAFER Barrier, which was being repaired by TMS workers when a heavy shower hit the track, prompting the red-flag stoppage at 2:44:29 p.m. (CDT).

Newgarden, a native of Hendersonville, Tenn., scored the first two victories of his Indy car career last season while finishing a career-best seventh in points. Newgarden made his series debut in March 2012 on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Newgarden began race day in Fort Worth fourth in the championship standings, 98 points behind leader Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske. The TMS event marked Newgarden’s 76th series start.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 24 2016
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