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IndyCar Notes: Newgarden Still Feeling Under Handed

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, August 22 2016
Josef Newgarden says injured hand still giving him pain. (INDYCAR/LAT USA file photo)

Josef Newgarden says injured hand still giving him pain. (INDYCAR/LAT USA file photo)

If Josef Newgarden greets you with an awkward left-handed shake, don’t take it personally. The rising Verizon IndyCar Series star still is feeling the pain of the broken right hand he suffered during a crash at Texas Motor Speedway last month.

“Everyone thought my (broken) clavicle was going to be a problem. I got plated and it’s a little sore, but it wasn’t a problem inside the car,” Newgarden said during a recent interview at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. “My hand was more of an issue…my hand still hurts. I’m still hesitant to shake with my right hand and I feel terrible. I feel like such a goober left-handed, and I have to explain why I’m shaking with my left hand. It still sometimes hurts when people come in for a firm grip shake. But when you have ligament damage it takes a long time.”

Newgarden and the 22-car starting field for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway picked up an extra off-day Sunday when rain forced INDYCAR to postpone and reschedule the 200-lapper for noon (EDT) Monday. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 12:09 p.m., with the forecast for sunny skies and a high temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. NBC Sports Network and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network will broadcast the event around the “Tricky Triangle’s” 2.5-mile oval.

Newgarden, of Ed Carpenter Racing, will share the two-car front row alongside pole-sitter Mikhail Aleshin for the flying start. Aleshin, driver of the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, became the first Russian driver in Indy car history to win a pole position Saturday with a two-lap average speed of 220.445 mph.

The ABC Supply 500 was scheduled for a 3:10 p.m. (EDT) start Sunday, but light rain moved into the area shortly after noon and became heavier as race time approached. With a stronger front moving through the area, INDYCAR and track officials announced the decision to postpone the race at 3 p.m.

“It’s a disappointment, definitely,” Aleshin said of the rainout. “The thing is, we have what we have in this situation. I feel very sorry for the fans because they came out and now we have rain. It’s something we can’t do anything with. We need to hope that (Monday) has no rain and it will be fine.”

Newgarden earned P2 via a two-lap average of 220.195 mph in his No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet, missing the pole by less than a tenth of a second over the 5-mile qualifying run.

“I feel good,” said Newgarden, who was involved in a grinding crash triggered by Conor Daly on TMS’ 1.5-mile quadoval on June 12. “My whole approach now is I’m driving the car fine, it’s not been an issue. It’s just you get these lingering effects that it takes longer than you would think. But I’m doing great. I think I’m pretty much fully recovered aside from not being able to be in the gym yet and do a lot of upper body work, which might get you behind in the car. But I’m in good shape now.”

The ABC Supply 500 became the second series race this season delayed by weather. The Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway was scheduled for June 11 but pushed back to the following afternoon by rain and wet track conditions. Seventy-one laps were completed June 12 before rain returned. The race was suspended at that point and will be completed Saturday night.

Newgarden was airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas after the crash on Lap 42. The 25-year-old sustained a fractured right clavicle and small fracture on his right hand after his car was hit and tipped onto its right side by Daly’s No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda.

Aleshin won the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying Saturday after clocking the fastest lap in practice at 221.932 mph. The 29-year-old from Moscow said he isn’t concerned with changing track conditions from rain washing Firestone tire rubber off the track. “It will be the same for everyone,” Aleshin said. “We are going to prepare like we always do and just stay focused for one more day.”

Takuma Sato will start third in the No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda at 220.067 mph _ the best qualifying effort for the Japanese driver since he won pole for the second Chevrolet Dual in Detroit race in 2014. Brazil’s Helio Castroneves will start next to Sato in Row 2 after logging two laps at an average of 219.781 mph in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

Row 3 will consist of Colombia’s Carlos Munoz in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (219.647) and Canada’s James Hinchcliffe, Aleshin’s teammate in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda (219.463).

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Eighteen drivers remain mathematically alive in the hunt for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship, led by Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud. The driver of the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet has collected 484 points through the first 12 completed races of the season, building a 58-point lead over teammate Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. Power will start eighth and Pagenaud 14th when the green flag waves Monday at Pocono.

Three past Pocono race-winners will start farther back in the 22-car field. Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2014 race-winner, starts on the inside of Row 8 in the No. 2 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet. Scott Dixon, the 2013 race-winner and four-time/reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, will be on the inside of Row 10 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Ryan Hunter-Reay, last year’s Pocono winner, starts last in the Andretti Autosport No. 28 DHL Honda after crashing his primary car in practice and not making a qualifying attempt in the backup car.

Indy cars have raced 22 times at Pocono, annually from 1971-89 and again starting in 2013. All of the races have been 500-mile distances except two shortened by rain in 1975 (420 miles) and 1981 (305 miles). Both of the rain-shortened races were won by A.J. Foyt Jr., whose four wins at Pocono are the most in Indy car history.

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IndyCar Series drivers will carry “Back The Blue” decals on their cars and wear baseball caps representing Dallas-Fort Worth police and national law enforcement agencies when the rain-plagued Firestone 600 resumes at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night. Originally scheduled for Saturday night, June 11, the race was postponed on June 12 after a second consecutive rainstorm drenched the Metroplex. Only 71 of the scheduled 248 laps were completed before the red flag.

On July 7, five law enforcement officers were shot and killed by a sniper in downtown Dallas at the end of a protest over police-involved shootings with minorities in Louisiana and Minnesota.

Alexander Rossi, first American rookie to win the Indianapolis 500 since Louis Meyer in 1928, joined TMS President Eddie Gossage last week in special visits to the Jack Evans Headquarters of the Dallas Police Department and the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex of the Fort Worth Police Department. The latter stop included the 40-member 2016 candidate class from the Fort Worth Police Academy.

Rossi and Gossage presented 200 tickets for the race, set for 8 p.m. (CDT), at each stop. Police personnel and all first responders will be admitted to the race free, along with a companion, by showing their badge.

It’s been an interesting and difficult summer for police officers and we want to show our respect,” Gossage said. “We want to show they can come out and have some fun and forget about all those tough things because they’re going to have to go back to it _ to keep us safe and defend us. We want them to know Saturday, Aug. 27, you can come to the speedway and have a great time as our way of showing our appreciation.”

Rossi spent time chatting with the officers as well as posing for photos and signing autographs in Dallas and Fort Worth. Rossi also had an opportunity to witness first-hand all the salutes, tributes and hand-written notes and signs from citizens showing their support of the Dallas PD in their headquarters as a result of the deadly sniper shootings. Rossi added a personal note and signature to the “Back The Blue” tribute on a column on the second floor of headquarters. 

“It’s a huge honor to be here and to meet people that spend their whole lives looking out for us,” said Rossi, of Andretti Herta Autosport w/Curb Agajanian. “Being an American, I grew up and I have a lot of understanding and appreciation for what they do not only for our nation but for our communities as well. It’s something we all take for granted at times. It’s just a nice reminder to be able to come here and meet people and get the personal, human experience.”

Tickets for the Firestone 600/The Sequel are available by contacting the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

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Monday’s starting grid for the ABC Supply 500 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, and speed: 

  1. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 220.445 mph   
    2. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 220.195   
    3. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 220.067    
    4. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 219.781    
    5. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 219.647    
    6. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 219.463    
    7. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 219.326    
    8. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 218.617    
    9. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 218.606    
    10. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 218.424    
    11. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 218.204    
    12. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 218.051    
    13. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 218.012    
    14. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 217.721    
    15. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 217.284    
    16. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 216.917    
    17. (8) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 216.689    
    18. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 216.263    
    19. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 215.337    
    20. (88) Conor Daly, Honda, 214.757    
    21. (19) Pippa Mann, Honda, 211.267    
    22. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, no speed
| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, August 22 2016
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