NEWTON, Iowa — Josef Newgarden collapsed in the motorhome lot following his late crash Sunday at Iowa Speedway and was taken to a Des Moines hospital by helicopter for evaluation.
IndyCar medical director Dr. Geoffrey Billows said Newgarden was transported by helicopter to Mercy One Des Moines Medical Center because the infield care center lacked the equipment to properly evaluate the Team Penske driver, who cut open the back of his head when he collapsed.
Billows said Newgarden was awake and alert, but the hospital was a 45-minute drive from the track and heavy traffic for the post-race Blake Shelton concert would have delayed the journey.
Newgarden dominated and led 148 of the 300 laps of the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 while trying to sweep the weekend doubleheader. But something on his Team Penske car broke with 64 laps remaining and the 31-year-old Tennessee driver spun hard into the outside wall — creating an opening for Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP to win the race.
Newgarden, a two-time IndyCar champion, was visibly rattled after his mandatory check in the infield care center after the crash.
“Definitely was a bit of a shot. I want to cry, so sad for my team. I don’t know what happened,” Newgarden said. “Everything felt fine to me. Totally unexpected and it caught me by my surprise. Team Penske is the best. I never have this stuff, so maybe we were due.
“We can’t afford it for this year. But we’ll fight back. We have a great team here.”
Chevrolet’s initial diagnosis was that the suspension broke on Newgarden’s car.
Billows said Newgarden cleared all tests in the care center after the crash, and the medical staff spoke to him a second time before he returned to the motorhome lot. IndyCar also had planned to re-evaluate him Thursday in Indianapolis.
Per IndyCar regulations, a driver receives a secondary evaluation when a crash registers more than 80 G-Forces. There was no immediate word from IndyCar or Team Penske on the force of Newgarden’s hit.
“Thinking of my bus brother right now,” tweeted Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin.
It’s the second win of the season for O'Ward, who finished second on Saturday and remains firmly in the IndyCar title race with five races remaining.