INDIANAPOLIS — Two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was cleared Thursday to practice for Saturday’s Gallagher Indy GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway following his collapse after crashing at Iowa.
Newgarden will be re-evaluated Friday after practice to determine if he can compete Saturday on the road course at Indianapolis.
Newgarden was leading and headed to a sweep of the Iowa doubleheader Sunday when the suspension on his Team Penske car broke and he smashed hard into the wall. The driver from Nashville was evaluated in the Iowa medical center and cleared, but was required to undergo a second check Thursday by IndyCar officials at the speedway.
But not long after leaving the care center, Newgarden lost consciousness and collapsed in the motorhome lot. He hit his head on the pavement, opening a wound, and was airlifted to a Des Moines hospital and held overnight.
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Team Penske stated all tests on Newgarden had been negative and he was held overnight as a precaution. The 31-year-old returned to Nashville on Monday and visited a specialist this week ahead of traveling to Indianapolis.
Team Penske had Santino Ferrucci on standby in case IndyCar said Newgarden can not race Saturday on the road course. Ferrucci will be in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity race.
He arrived late afternoon at the speedway for another round of tests and was cleared Thursday evening to race.
Newgarden, who won Saturday’s race, dominated and led 148 of the 300 laps while trying to sweep the doubleheader weekend. He was shown as the points leader ahead of the hard collision – IndyCar confirmed his hit into the wall registered more than 80 G’s of force – and he was visibly rattled by the crash that he said “definitely rocked me. I got a little bit shaken from it, but I’m OK.”
The crash dropped Newgarden to a tie with Scott Dixon for third in the standings with five races remaining.