Just two weeks removed from a harrowing incident at Texas Motor Speedway, Josef Newgarden jumped back behind the wheel of his No. 21 Direct Supply/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet for practice at Road America.
Newgarden, who sustained a broken right clavicle and a fracture in his right hand in a crash with Conor Daly during the postponed Firestone 600, participated in each of Friday’s two 75-minute Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, completing 30 laps around the 4.014-mile road course before ending the day 15th on the charts out of 22 teams.
Newgarden had previously missed an earlier test session in Elkhart Lake with his injuries. JR Hildebrand, ECR’s third driver, participated in the session in Newgarden’s absence.
Cleared to attempt the practice by INDYCAR Medical, Newgarden emerged from the session confident, though suffering from some pain.
“Both hands hurt overall,” Newgarden said, “but I think the clavicle will hold up. It’s a little sore, but I think it will be OK for the weekend. I feel the pain in the hands everywhere. I think the clavicle has been surprisingly better than I thought. Braking and going into the corners is not much of an issue. It’s going to be sore, but I think I can manage the pain.”
While sore, Newgarden was cleared to race in Sunday’s event following the session.
Following a post-practice evaluation @josefnewgarden has been cleared to compete the rest of the #KohlerGP weekend. #INDYCAR
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) June 24, 2016
With any doubts of Newgarden running removed, the Tennessean can focus on dialing in his No. 21 Chevrolet for Sunday’s race.
“I’m more optimistic than yesterday,” said Newgarden. “I’m happy I was able to run today and see how I can get into the car. I think we have some more work over the weekend trying to get the performance where we need to from a car standpoint. I think we got a lot away from the car perspective. I am more focused about that more than what I’m dealing with. I think I can manage the pain over the weekend, but I’m more concerned with the car.”
Newgarden, 25, currently sits fourth in IndyCar Series standings. However, he’ll be due for a dip in the points come Aug. The ECR driver’s been deemed ineligible to return to the postponed Firestone 600 when it resumes on Aug. 27, along with Dale Coyne Racing’s Daly. The two drivers were deemed out of the race, 29 laps down when heavy rains halted the event.
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