Josef Newgarden transported to hospital for evaluation of possible head injury


NEWTON, Iowa – Two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was airlifted for further evaluation of a possible head injury because he fell and suffered “an abrasion” after Sunday’s race at Iowa Speedway.

Dr. Geoffrey Billows, outgoing medical director for IndyCar, said Newgarden was communicating after “passing out” and striking his head shortly after the checkered flag. The Team Penske driver had wrecked while leading on Lap 231 in pursuit of his second consecutive victory at the 0.894-mile oval.

Observers said Newgarden fell in the motorhome lot where drivers stay on race weekends.

UPDATE: Team Penske says Newgarden will be hospitalized overnight for observation

“We just want to send him downtown just for further evaluation because we don’t have the ability to get more advanced imaging or radiographs,” Dr. Billows told reporters in the Iowa Speedway infield care center. “But he’s awake and talking to us.”

Dr. Billows said Newgarden was transported by helicopter because of concern that the 45-minute ground transport to Mercy One Des Moines Medical Center in downtown Des Moines would be delayed by postrace traffic and a Blake Shelton concert at the track.

Newgarden was airlifted “only because it’s so far to Des Moines,” said Billows, who stressed the helicopter flight was precautionary. “It’s a 45-minute drive, and we’ve got all this concert traffic and everything, we were afraid it was going to be delayed, and the helicopter was sitting here.”

An ambulance was called to the driver lot after Newgarden collapsed. He was inside the care center for about 30 minutes before being loaded into the helicopter on a stretcher.

Newgarden already had been evaluated in the care center after his crash and conducted interviews with NBC Sports and other media.

“That’s the thing that makes it confusing,” Dr. Billows said. “He crashed, he was evaluated here after the crash, and he was fine. We actually went and talked to him afterwards. And then apparently after (we) talked to him, he exited his hauler and passed out or fell or whatever and hit his head.

“We just felt out of the abundance of caution, we wanted to make sure he doesn’t have any kind of head injury.”

Dr. Billows said Newgarden “seemed OK” during his crash evaluation, but that the wreck registered a heavy enough impact that IndyCar planned to re-evaluate the driver Thursday “because of the level of Gs on the accelerometer.”

IndyCar will race on the next two weekends at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.

Newgarden led a race-high 148 of 300 laps and was poised to take the points lead with his second consecutive win and fifth of the season.

Outside the care center after the crash, Newgarden told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns that the impact “was definitely a bit of a shot.” His car lost traction in Turn 4 after an apparent suspension failure, according to Team Chevy officials.

“I want to cry,” Newgarden told Burns. “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.

“Everything felt fine to me up to that point. I did have a vibration at the start of the stint, which isn’t abnormal. Tire balances are always shifting. It’s very possible that we had a mismatched set or something. It wasn’t diabolical whatsoever. Actually, everything felt just fine. It was totally unexpected when it happened. It caught me by surprise. I didn’t know what happened until I was in the wall.”

Newgarden told other reporters in further interviews that the hit “definitely rocked me. I got a little bit shaken from it, but I’m OK. We have great safety in IndyCar, and the car held up good. So it wasn’t that bad, but it’s never nice to hit the wall at flat-chat. We’ll pick up the pieces and go on.”

Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin, who hosts a YouTube show with Newgarden,  visited the care center shortly before Newgarden was transported.

McLaughlin tweeted support of his Penske teammate after the race.

IndyCar officials released a statement later Sunday night: “Following an on-track incident at Iowa Speedway, Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden was evaluated and released from the infield care center.

“After the conclusion of the race, he fell and returned to the infield care center. He is awake and alert and has been transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.”

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”