Joseph Newgarden is taken to the hospital for examination after losing consciousness; Pato O’Ward wins second Iowa doubleheader race


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NEWTON, Iowa. Joseph Newgarden collapsed in a motorhome parking lot following a recent accident on Sunday at the Iowa Speedway and was flown by helicopter to a Des Moines hospital for examination.

IndyCar medical director Dr. Geoffrey Billows said Newgarden was flown by helicopter to MercyOne Medical Center in Des Moines because the medical center did not have the equipment to properly evaluate Team Penske’s driver, who slit the back of his head as he passed out.

Billows said Newgarden was awake and conscious, but the hospital was 45 minutes away from the track and heavy traffic from a Blake Shelton concert after the race would have delayed the ride.

Newgarden dominated and led 148 of 300 laps trying to win the weekend. But something in his Team Penske car broke down with 64 laps to go and the 31-year-old Tennessee spun hard and crashed into the outside wall, setting up an opportunity for Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward to win the race.

Newgarden, a two-time IndyCar champion, was visibly shaken after a mandatory check-up at the infield medical center after the accident.

“Definitely, it was something like a shot. I want to cry, so sad for my team. I don’t know what happened,” Newgarden said. “I was fine. Completely unexpected and it took me by surprise. The Penske team is the best. I never had this stuff, so maybe we should have.

“We can’t afford it this year. But we will resist. We have a great team here.”

Chevrolet’s initial diagnosis was that Newgarden’s car had a broken suspension. The force of Newgarden’s impact on the outer wall was not reported.

Billows said Newgarden passed all tests at the medical center after the accident and medical staff spoke to him a second time before he returned to the motorhome parking lot. IndyCar also planned to reevaluate him Thursday at Indianapolis before he passed out upon his return to the motorhome parking lot.

According to IndyCar regulations, a driver receives a secondary score when a G-force accident of more than 80 Gs is recorded. Neither IndyCar nor Team Penske reported the force of Newgarden’s impact.

“Thinking about my bus brother right now,” Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin tweeted.

O’Ward passed to the pit road win thanks to a quick stop from his Arrow McLaren SP team and pinned Penske teammates Will Power and Scott McLaughlin. This is the second win of the season for the Mexican driver, who finished on his second Saturday and remains in the IndyCar title race with five races to go.

O’Ward is fifth in the standings, 36 points behind leader Marcus Eriksson. His victory ended Team Penske’s dominance at the 0.894-mile oval, where Roger Penske’s riders won six of the last seven races through Sunday.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon finished fourth, followed by his teammate Jimmie Johnson, who raced hard with the Indianapolis 500 Ericsson winner and earned his best result in two seasons of IndyCar racing. Eriksson is also a Ganassi driver, and the Newgarden crash helped the Swede maintain the lead in the IndyCar standings, which made Johnson’s aggressive racing a little nerve-wracking for the Ganassi camp.

“I race with my teammates with the highest respect I can, every race I’ve been in I’ve been underperforming,” Johnson said. “It was really the first time I fought for a position and felt like I had to get through there, [Dixon]. Today I had it in me and I raced clean, hard and just had an amazing day.”

Eriksson said the difference was Johnson’s experience with ovals. The seven-time NASCAR champion made 686 stock car starts and won 83 races.

“Yeah, you know, he has a couple more oval races under his belt than I do. I think that’s what I was thinking when he fought me,” Eriksson said. “All this time I tried to get him to go into my dirty air. Every time I looked in my mirror, he was inside, outside, inside, outside. Oh my goodness. Come to me, please.”

It was another podium for Chevrolet, who made it on Saturday with Newgarden, O’Ward and Power.

Newgarden was the points leader at the time of the crash and equaled Dixon for third in the standings after the crash. In the standings, five riders share 36 points, with Ericsson leading Power by eight points.

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