Newgarden rested grateful to be back

Josef Newgarden appears to have done what it takes to prepare to race Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES road race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Noon ET, NBC and INDYCAR Radio Network).

In the days after a hard crash at Iowa Speedway, Newgarden said he stayed in a darkened room in his home, avoided distractions and gave himself time to relax. to rest.

“I just went in and rested for 48 hours as hard as I could,” said Newgarden, a two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion. “Nothing really bothered me; I just did things because I heard they were the right things to do.

“The light didn’t bother me, the screens didn’t bother me, but I avoided all that for 48 hours and tried to rest as much as possible. By the time Tuesday rolled around, I was feeling pretty solid.

Newgarden was checked Thursday afternoon by the INDYCAR medical team, then was assessed again by the group Friday morning after the first test of the series, a 90-minute session in which he signed the second fastest lap for the #2 PPG Penske Chevrolet team. .

In afternoon qualifying, Newgarden secured the fifth starting position for the 13th race of the season. Thirty-four points off the series lead, Newgarden said it was an important comeback to stay in contention for the series title.

“I’m just happy to be back,” he said. “I was really very motivated to be here this weekend. I knew that if we weren’t in this race, it would be very difficult to stay in the fight for the championship. It was kind of the “it” for me. I knew we had to be in the race.

Newgarden said he thought it was beneficial that “I’m in great shape and feeling great most of the week.” He thanked the INDYCAR medical team members for their support.

Newgarden said the rest period prohibited him from being in the simulator on Monday, which would have helped him and his team work out the final details of the race weekend.

“It would have been nice to have that preparation, (and) I think we could have been in a better position heading into this weekend, but we’re not in a bad position,” he said. he declares. “Luckily we have great cars here at Team Penske; I have great teammates to lean on. We qualified in the top five.

Ilott: “I am a man of my word”

Series rookie Callum Ilott was confirmed on Thursday for a contract extension with Juncos Hollinger Racing. Ilott said he signed the contract earlier this season, before other teams began to learn about his availability for 2023 amid one of the craziest – and oldest – seasons in history. Sport.

Ilott said he has not deviated from his commitment to the Indianapolis-based team, co-owned by Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger.

“At the end of the day, Ricardo and Brad invested a lot from the start, gave me the opportunity to come here,” he said. “The confidence in them and the confidence in me, vice versa, I really respected that.

“We made the deal early enough this year to continue, (but) I’m a man of my word. Of course there was a lot of interest from the other (teams), but I’ve been very honest from the start if someone approached me, ‘Look, this is the situation.’

“But yes, I am very happy to continue. I think we have a lot of momentum. Moreover, engineers and people are also interested. I think as a team we will grow – hopefully soon. It might be slow, but we’re definitely on the way to improving.

Graham Rahal (No. 15 One Cure Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) tweeted: “Callum is an exceptional talent. Well-deserved. Looking forward to running you for years to come.

Juncos and Hollinger have confirmed their interest in adding a second full-time car for 2023 – Juncos said it’s a “huge” competitive disadvantage to be a one-car team – but the parts aren’t in yet. square.

“We will prioritize quality,” Juncos said. “With one car you can still be quite good, (but) there’s no doubt that the second car will take us to the next level. That’s the intention.

Ilott said he would like to have a veteran teammate to help him grow, especially on oval tracks. His career in Europe never included such a place.

Qualifying struggles

There will be some strong cars starting from the back of Saturday’s 25-car field.

Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) will start 20th, Romain Grosjean (No. 28 DHL Honda of Andretti Autosport) 22nd and Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) 25th.

Dixon was unhappy with the way his team performed, saying he feared he wouldn’t have time to bank a lap on the primary Firestone tires (black) due to Ericsson’s car stalling , which led to being sent on alternate (red) tires in Circulation. Dixon also didn’t have the right front fender setting he needed.

“It was a complete mess,” he said. “Amateur hour.”

The good news is that Dixon and other riders who didn’t make it past the first lap will have an extra set of fresh alternate tires in a three-stage race that favors them. Ericsson will have two more sets of reds due to his car stopping on lap one while on primary tyres.

Brakes were apparently just one of the issues Grosjean’s team faced on Friday. On team radio, an apology came in for the “messy” day. Grosjean answered severely.

“We can’t go on like this,” he said.

The Ericsson team replaced the engine of their car on Friday afternoon.

Laguna Seca gets project approval

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, site of the final NTT INDYCAR SERIES race of the season, has received county approval to begin a $14.9 million project to resurface the 2.238-mile permanent road course and replace the bridge start/finish, an investment to ensure the long term future of the internationally acclaimed facility.

Construction is expected to start in November. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey takes place September 11 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

The day to come

The Saturday schedule is one of the busiest of the year at IMS. Track action begins with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES warm-up at 8:15 a.m. ET, followed by NASCAR Cup Series practice and qualifying at 9:35 a.m.

NBC’s broadcast of the Gallagher Grand Prix begins at noon ET, with the green flag estimated at 12:30 p.m. NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race, the Pennzoil 150 at The Brickyard, follows at 3:30 p.m.

On Sunday, the Verizon 200 at The Brickyard kicks off at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Tips

  • Former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne, who won the Brickyard 400 at IMS in 2017, will ride in the Ruoff Mortgage Fastest Seat in Sports in the preliminary rounds of Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES race.
  • Felix Rosenqvist (#7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) said he and his engineer, Craig Hampson, often decided to take a more radical approach to chassis setup to excel, and it paid off on Friday by winning the NTT P1 Award. Meanwhile, teammate Pato O’Ward (#5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) went the more traditional route with setups. O’Ward will start third in Saturday’s race.
  • Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) admits to doing his best when he’s not thinking too much. NBC broadcaster James Hinchcliffe put it succinctly on Friday’s Peacock Premium show: “The less he thinks, the faster he drives.”
  • Be sure to check out Marcus Ericsson’s helmet. He presents the Borg-Warner trophy that he won his place on May 29 with an Indianapolis 500 victory presented by Gainbridge.
  • Santino Ferrucci will not be able to drive an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car this weekend, but being the driver selected by Team Penske as a potential replacement for Josef Newgarden has made his week. “The biggest compliment I’ve received in my career,” he said.
  • Friday marked the 10th anniversary of Jimmie Johnson’s last Brickyard 400 at IMS. Johnson has won four times at the oval (2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012).

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