Santino Ferrucci on standby for Josef Newgarden, who is released from hospital

Santino Ferrucci Josef Newgarden
Logan Riely/Getty Images

Santino Ferrucci will be available to replace Josef Newgarden if the two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion isn’t cleared to race this weekend on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

In a statement, Team Penske announced that Newgarden was released Monday morning from MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center and returned to his home in Nashville, Tennessee. He was hospitalized overnight after falling and suffering an abrasion after Sunday’s race at Iowa Speedway, where he suffered a heavy crash while leading.

Though scans were negative in evaluation for a possible head injury, Newgarden will be evaluated by the IndyCar medical team Thursday to determine whether he is fit to race in Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix.

Outgoing IndyCar medical director Dr. Geoffrey Billows said Sunday that Newgarden would need to be cleared because of the heavy G force registered in the impact of his Turn 4 crash.

Penske said if Newgarden is unable to drive, Ferrucci will make his fourth start of the IndyCar season.

Ferrucci, 24, already will be at Indy because he is racing in the Xfinity race on the Indy road course that follows the IndyCar race. He made his first Xfinity start of the 2022 season last Saturday for Sam Hunt Racing at Pocono Raceway, finishing 35th in a crash.

According to Team Penske president Tim Cindric in a RACER story posted Tuesday night, Ferrucci would forego racing the Xfinity Series if he is needed to substitute for Newgarden in the No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet.

Sam Hunt Racing tweeted that Ferrurcci would be driving its No. 26 Toyota at Indy but indicates changes were possible.

Ferrucci has made 43 IndyCar starts since 2018, running full time in 2019-20 at Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan. He has a career-best finish of fourth four times, including the 2020 Indy 500. He has finished in the top 10 of all four Indy 500 starts and was the race’s top rookie with a seventh in 2019.

He has two top 10s on the IMS road course.

Ferrucci has said he wants to embrace the role of IndyCar’s “Super Sub,” and he has made three starts with three teams this season.

He finished ninth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the March 20 race at Texas Motor Speedway as a last-minute replacement for Jack Harvey (who missed the race with a concussion). Replacing the injured Callom Ilott (broken hand), Ferrucci finished 21st at Detroit for Juncos Hollinger Racing.

In his only scheduled start this year, Ferrucci was 10th in the Indy 500 for Dreyer & Reinbold.

Newgarden’s possible absence has prompted rampant speculation on who might fill the seat if necessary. On Monday night, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion even tossed in his hat to make an IndyCar debut at IMS.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.