Josef Newgarden has passed his follow-up tests with the NTT IndyCar Series’ medical team and been cleared to drive in tomorrow’s practice session at the Indianapolis road course. A follow-up test will assess whether he is allowed to participate in the remainder of the race weekend.
Newgarden was placed into the series’ concussion protocols after suffering a heavy rearward crash on Sunday at Iowa Speedway. The root of the incident was quickly traced to a broken right-rear damper which caused the car to spin and fire into the barrier at unabated speed. Newgarden later collapsed in the infield bus lot and hit his head on the ground; he was transported to a hospital in Des Moines where brain scans were done and he was held overnight for observation before being released Monday morning.
With the impact registering at or above 80Gs, Team Penske’s two-time champion was booked for a return visit to IndyCar Medical on Thursday to take the computer-based ImPACT test, which is used to measure and compare a person’s cognitive abilities to a baseline test performed prior to the start of the season.
“Following the event at Iowa Speedway and per INDYCAR protocol, the driver of the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden, was evaluated this afternoon by INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows,” read a statement issued by the series.
“The examination determined that Newgarden is cleared to participate in tomorrow’s NTT IndyCar Series practice session on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Newgarden will be re-evaluated after the session to determine if he’s cleared to resume all racing activities for the remainder of the Gallagher Grand Prix event.”
Holding third in the drivers’ championship, Newgarden’s chance to continue fighting for a third title — with only five races left, including Saturday’s 85-lap event — should keep the 31-year-old in the hunt as he looks to draw down the 34-point deficit to championship leader Marcus Ericsson.
In preparing for Newgarden’s possible absence from the No. 2 Chevy when practice begins on Friday, Team Penske arranged for IndyCar veteran Santino Ferrucci to substitute for the Tennessean. With no need for his services, Ferrucci confirmed to RACER that he will return to his previous plans for the weekend and drive the No. 26 Sam Hunt Racing Toyota in the Xfinity Series race.