IndyCar medical director Dr. Jeffrey Bellows said Newgarden was flown by helicopter to MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center because the inpatient care center lacked the equipment to properly assess the Penske team driver, who cut the back of his head when he collapsed.
Bellows said Newgarden was awake and alert, but the hospital was a 45-minute drive from the track and heavy traffic for Blake Shelton’s after-race concert would have delayed the ride.
Newgarden dominated and led 148 of 300 laps as he tried to sweep the weekend. But something in his Team Penske’s car broke with 64 laps remaining and the 31-year-old Tennessee driver pushed hard into the outer wall – creating a chance for Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato Award to win the race.
Newgarden, a two-time IndyCar champion, was visibly upset after his mandatory check up at the in-house care center after the accident.
“It definitely was a little shot,” Newgarden said. “I want to cry, so sad for my team. I don’t know what happened.” “Everything seemed fine to me. Totally unexpected and it took me by surprise. Team Penske is the best. I’ve never had this stuff, so maybe we deserved it.”
“We can’t stand that for this year. But we will resist. We have a great team here.”
Chevrolet’s initial diagnosis was that the suspension had failed the Newgarden. There was no immediate word on the force with which Newgarden hit the outer wall.
Bellows said Newgarden cleared all tests at the care center after the accident, and medical staff spoke to him a second time before he returned to the parking lot. IndyCar also planned to reevaluate it Thursday in Indianapolis before collapsing upon its return to a motorhome.
According to IndyCar regulations, a driver receives a secondary rating when they score a crash over 80 G-Forces. There was no immediate word from IndyCar or Team Penske about Newgarden’s injury strength.
“I’m thinking about my brother on the bus right now,” Penske colleague Scott McLaughlin tweeted.
O’Ward made a pass to win on a pit road with a quick stop by the Arrow McLaren SP team and passed his Penske teammates Will Power and Scott McLaughlin. This is the second win of the season for the Mexican driver, who finished second Saturday and remains firmly in the IndyCar title race with five races remaining.
O’Ward is fifth in the standings, 36 points behind leader Marcus Ericsson. His win halted Team Penske’s dominance of the 0.894 oval miles, with Roger Penske’s drivers winning six of the past seven races before Sunday.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon finished fourth and was followed by teammate Jimmy Johnson, who raced hard with Indianapolis 500 winner Ericsson for his best result in two IndyCar racing seasons. Ericsson is also Ganassi’s driver, and the Newgarden crash helped the Swede retain the lead in the IndyCar standings – making Johnson’s aggressive races a bit straining on Ganassi’s nerves.
“I race my teammates with as much respect as possible, every race I’ve been in, I give way to it,” Johnson said. “It was the first time I fought for the position and I felt I should have been there in passing [Dixon]. Today I had that in me and raced cleanly and seriously, and it was a great day. ”
The difference, Erickson said, is Johnson’s experiment with ovals. The seven-time NASCAR Champion achieved 686 starts in a car and won 83 races.
“Yes, he has more than two elliptical races under his belt,” Erickson said. “I guess that’s what I was thinking when he was fighting me.” “The whole time I was kind of trying to make him go on my dirty air. Every time I looked in my mirror, he was in, out, inside, out. Oh, my God. Stand behind me, please.”
It was another podium sweep for Chevrolet, which did so on Saturday with Newgarden, O’Ward and Power.
Newgarden was recorded as the points leader at the time of his crash and slipped to a tie with Dixon for third in the standings after his crash. There are five drivers 36 points separated in the standings, and Ericsson Power leads by eight.