Newgarden will “definitely race Iowa” despite missing test

JR Hildebrand stood in for him at today’s Iowa Speedway test, but Josef Newgarden has confirmed that he will be racing the #21 Ed Carpenter Racing entry at next week’s Iowa Corn 300.

Newgarden will “definitely race Iowa” despite missing test
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Conor Daly, Dale Coyne Racing Honda and Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet in huge crash
J.R. Hildebrand, Ed Carpenter Racing, Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Following his 200mph shunt at Texas Motor Speedway that left him with a broken right clavicle and a fractured right hand, there were doubts over Newgarden’s fitness for last week’s race at Road America. However, the 25-year-old took part and finished ninth despite a qualifying spin relegating him to 20th on the grid.

However, the Tennessee native had said his bigger fitness worry was the 0.894-mile Iowa oval given its bumps, and the almost constant turning required there.

“I’d say it’s pretty much 100 percent I’ll be racing at Iowa,” Newgarden told Motorsport.com. “It’s like last week at Road America. I’m hell-bent on running that race. The reason JR was testing was to give me a couple more weeks to heal a bit more.

“It kinda sucked because you always want to be doing it personally, but JR’s great and a lot of his setup preferences are similar to my own. So that makes it easy for me to work with and for the team to work with. I don’t think we lost anything from me not being in the car.”

At Road America, Newgarden sought to play down the pain of the broken clavicle which currently has a metal plate screwing the two broken halves together, and said it was actually his hand that was more of a problem. However, at Iowa, where he led and ultimately finished second last year, he expected the collarbone to be a more prominent worry.

“I think the clavicle is more of an issue here at Iowa,” he said. “There’s not a ton of right shoulder loading at Road America. It’s more right-hander corners there. But at Iowa, the left-hander is almost constant – even the front straightaway is curved.

“So two weeks extra to help that heal and get in a better spot will help. The race is gonna be sustained loading for two hours which is going to be pretty tough.”

Both hands are an issue

Although it was his right hand that sustained the fracture, Newgarden says that in fact both are currently giving him problems.

“My hands are not where they need to be. I didn’t have good grip strength at Road America, so I’m trying to get them ready. Some of the process you can’t speed up; it just takes time to heal, so I’m hoping two more weeks will get me further up the road as far as that’s concerned.

“I was so caught up in the problem with the right hand, because it had really blown up in the accident. I had no wrist movement because it was so swollen, it looked like a balloon. But it was broken so, OK, I understood why it would swell.

“Then when I got in the car at Road America, my left hand was hurting! Once I started bending and twisting my thumb in the way that you have to around the steering wheel in these cars, it was killing me. So I think I’ve got something weird going on there that needs to get looked at. Maybe I hyperextended it in the crash and a ligament’s popped or something.”  

Not just looking for points

Given that the Texas Firestone 600 ran for 30 more laps after Newgarden’s accident with Conor Daly, neither driver will be allowed to restart the postponed remainder of the race, to be held on Saturday, Aug. 27. However, the Ed Carpenter Racing driver, who is currently fifth in the championship, denied that he had forced himself to race at Road America and in next week’s Iowa race just to bank points.

“My initial thought was to just get points, yeah,” he admitted, “but as we got closer to race weekend, I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going there just to show up and drive around. I’m going there to win the race.’

“And I spun in qualifying because I was pushing too hard. I hate when people say this stuff, but honestly I was on a really good lap! It was going to match [second-placed qualifier] Scott Dixon’s lap from the qualifying segment before. I was keeping it flat through the Carousel, and I just got greedy. My fault. I’m just trying to explain the mentality – I was attacking, trying to get the most out of the car.

“Then we regrouped and tried to get the most points we could on Sunday.

“Well I’m taking that same outlook in Iowa. We can’t just sit back; we’ve got to go there and try to win.”

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