Photo Credit: indycar.com
Josef Newgarden, after a terrifying wreck on Sunday, June 12th, has just defied the odds and been cleared to practice on Friday for this Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. He will be re-evaluated following the practice sessions, when it will then be determined if he will be able to continue on with qualifying and the race itself.
Newgarden was injured in the postponed Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas on Sunday afternoon. The race went under caution on lap 42 when the No. 18 Honda-powered car of Dale Coyne Racing’s Conor Daly got loose out of turn 4 and spun into the No. 21 Chevrolet-powered car of Newgarden. Newgarden’s car was flipped onto its side before being smashed into the SAFER barrier by Daly’s out-of-control machine, cockpit-first.
Daly walked away from the wreck unharmed. Newgarden got out of his car with some help from the Holmatro Safety Crew before crumbling to the ground in an evident state of shock. He was then transported to a local hospital for examinations on his right shoulder and right wrist. It was later revealed that he had fractured both his right clavicle and a bone in his right wrist.
Ed Carpenter Racing’s JR Hildebrand was supposed to replace the injured Josef Newgarden in the No. 21 Chevrolet-powered car at this Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Series race at the 14-turn 4.048-mile Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. However, Josef Newgarden will now be able to drive if he is cleared following the practice sessions.
Newgarden, who currently sits 4th in the IndyCar championship standings at the halfway point in the season, will have his chances at winning this year’s championship decrease big time if he ends up sitting out at Road America, as there are only 8 races remaining in the season. Not being able to gain points on the championship leader, Simon Pagenaud, whom Newgarden trails by 98 points, is going to hurt his odds big time. Newgarden is, however, only 18 points behind Scott Dixon, who currently sits in 2nd place in the championship, so he will still be in the championship mix even if he does end up not racing this weekend, especially with double points on offer for the series finale at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California on Sunday, September 19th.
Hildebrand, who could still end up replacing Newgarden at Road America, made his series debut back in 2010 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. He has driven in 39 IndyCar races, with his best finish coming at the 2011 Indianapolis 500, when he crossed the line in 2nd place after a mishap in the final turn, where he lost control of his car and lost the lead to the late Dan Wheldon.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing JR Hildebrand. You can see that Q&A right here: Q&A with JR Hildebrand.
This weekend’s race at Road America will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network at 12:30 PM ET.