NEWTON, Iowa — Two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was airlifted for further evaluation for a possible head injury because he fell and suffered an “abrasion” after the race. Sunday at Iowa Speedway.
Outgoing IndyCar medical director Dr Geoffrey Billows said Newgarden was communicating after he “passed out” and hit his head shortly after the checkered flag. The Team Penske driver had been wrecked as he led on lap 231 chasing his second consecutive win at the 0.894-mile oval.
Observers said Newgarden had fallen into the motorhome where drivers stay on race weekends.
“We just want to send him downtown just for further evaluation because we don’t have the capacity to get more advanced images or x-rays,” Dr. Billows told reporters at the care center on the grounds of the Iowa Speedway. “But he’s awake and talking to us.”
Dr. Billows said Newgarden checked OK after a previous accident, and Newgarden was airlifted due to distance to Des Moines overland (45 minutes not due to injury). pic.twitter.com/hVokdXsY5j
—Nate Ryan (@nateryan) July 24, 2022
Dr. Billows said Newgarden was airlifted by helicopter due to concerns that the 45-minute ground ride to Mercy One Des Moines Medical Center in downtown Des Moines would be delayed by post-race traffic and a Blake Shelton concert on the track.
Newgarden was airlifted “only because it’s so far from 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 stuff, we were worried it might be delayed, and the helicopter was sitting here.”
An ambulance was called to the drivers parking lot after Newgarden collapsed. He remained inside the care center for approximately 30 minutes before being loaded into the helicopter on a stretcher.
Newgarden had already been assessed at the care center after his accident and conducted interviews with NBC Sports and other media.
“That’s what makes it confusing,” Dr. Billows said. “He crashed, he was assessed here after the accident and he was fine. In fact, we went to talk to him after. And then apparently after (we) talked to him, he got out of his transporter and s passed out or fell or whatever and hit his head.
Newgarden left the helicopter pad.
Again, I want to point out that Dr. Billows told us it was used for proximity/circulation issues. pic.twitter.com/5qCsxkWvCD
— Nathan Brown (@By_NathanBrown) July 24, 2022
“We just felt out of abundance of caution, we wanted to make sure he didn’t have any sort of head injury.”
Dr Billows said Newgarden “looked fine” during his assessment of the crash, but the wreckage had recorded an impact heavy enough that IndyCar plans to reassess the driver on Thursday “due to the level of G on the crash. ‘accelerometer’.
IndyCar will race the next two weekends at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.
After dominating all day, Josef Newgarden is OUT of the race.
Take a look at what happened to the winner of Saturday’s race in Iowa. #INDYCAR
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) July 24, 2022
Newgarden led a record 148 of 300 laps and was poised to take the points lead with his second straight win and fifth of the season.
Outside the post-crash care center, Newgarden told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns that the impact “was definitely a bit of a hit.” His car lost traction in Turn 4 after an apparent suspension failure, according to Chevy team officials.
“I want to cry,” Newgarden told Burns. “I am so sad for my team. I do not know what happened. It was a good race. It’s just a race, but I feel bad for us. The Chevy and Hitachi team guys did a great job. Something went wrong.
“Everything was fine for me up to this point. I had a vibration at the start of the stint, which is not abnormal. The balance of the tires is constantly changing. It is very possible that we had a mismatched set or something like that. It wasn’t evil at all. In fact, everything was going well. It was totally unexpected when it happened. It took me by surprise. I didn’t know what happened. had passed until I was in the wall.
Newgarden told other reporters in another interview that the hit “definitely shook me up. So it wasn’t that bad, but it’s never nice to hit the wall during a flat-chat. We’ll pick up the pieces and move on.
His Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin, who hosts a YouTube show with Newgarden, visited the care center shortly before Newgarden was transported.
I’m thinking about my bus brother right now 💛 @josefnewgarden
—Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin93) July 24, 2022
McLaughlin tweeted support from teammate Penske after the race.
IndyCar Officials issued a statement later Sunday evening“Following an on-track incident at Iowa Speedway, Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden has been assessed and released from the on-court care center.
“After the race was over, he fell and returned to the field care center. He is awake and alert and has been taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.