Nashville, Tenn. ( Associated Press) — Joseph Newgarden was not in peak physical condition when he ran in Indianapolis last week, so much so he admits.
But sitting out would have reduced his championship chances, so securing medical clearance was Newgarden’s only choice to compete after the post-race collapse in Iowa. He finished fifth to maintain his hold of third place in the IndyCar standings.
“I wasn’t 100%, but I felt good, I was feeling normal in many respects, but I’m trying to better myself,” Newgarden said. “We needed to be in the race, and I was happy to be there.”
This is followed by the second Music City Grand Prix, their home race through the downtown streets of Nashville. Newgarden was an ambassador for last year’s inaugural race and commitments thinned him before his 10th-place finish.
This Sunday will not be good enough for Newgarden’s quest for a third IndyCar title. So he reduced his obligations ahead of this year’s race and used several days this week to reset after his Iowa disruption.
Newgarden won the first race of the Iowa doubleheader last month and took an IndyCar points lead, but crashed while chasing a weekend sweep the next day, hitting hard. The incident dropped him to third in the standings and then a medical scare ensued: Newgarden was cleared at the care center, but then lost consciousness in the motorhome lot and suffered a head injury.
It is believed that he got hurt when his head hit the pavement. Deliberate care is required to ensure Newgarden will be cleared to race the road course in Indianapolis last Saturday. When that race ended, she felt “just tired.”
“I was exhausted from the intense week,” he said. “It wasn’t so much that I was dealing with symptoms, I just didn’t have 100% energy. I feel like this week, I have more time to rest, and I’ll make myself more this weekend.” .
Newgarden is in a tight title fight, with six drivers separated by 52 points and four races left. His Team Penske teammate Will Power took the lead for the third time this season behind Indianapolis; Newgarden, with four IndyCar-high wins this season, are 32 points behind their teammate.
Newgarden is passionate about IndyCar in Nashville and packed its schedule with pre-race appearances to promote the event’s debut last year. This year he only made the cut in his fourth annual ping-pong tournament for charity. About a dozen of his fellow contestants played in the tournament on Thursday afternoon. Newgarden’s team reached the final but lost.
He said charity tournaments are a priority. Newgarden, through the IndyCar bonus program, has already earned a $1 million prize this season and $500,000 was split between two charities of his choice. The tournament also benefited two charities, Wags and Walks of Nashville and SeriousFun Children’s Network.
Newgarden’s support has helped Wags and Vox – where Newgarden and his wife adopted one of their dogs – break ground on their first facility that will double the amount of pets it helps save each year . Both founders Katherine Dhal and Klee Newman, who run the SeriousFun Children’s Network, which was started by her father, the late actor Paul Newman, took part in the tournament.
The debut Music City Grand Prix was a mess – nine warnings made 33 laps out of 80 to run down the yellow – and winner Marcus Ericsson raced with an air crash to secure his second win of the season start up.
But the traffic jams, track blockages, water on the racing surface and the rough roads of downtown Nashville all played a part in one of the slowest IndyCar races in years. It’s driven to track changes ahead of Sunday’s race on Nashville’s 11-turn, 2.1-mile course.
—The restart area is now located along the long exit and at Turn 9, directly across from the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge. This was the starting place last year; Restarts were at the start-finish line.
Colton Herta dominated the entire weekend of last year until he crashed with five laps remaining while chasing Ericsson for the win. He appreciated the change.
“I think it’s a good decision. I think it’s going to be tough as a leader to make a good jump on the field, but it’s a really long straight,” said Herta. “It’s definitely going to lead to some passing. Will do, I believe.”
– The entrance to Turn 9 on the driver’s left has been narrowed from 25 feet to 60 feet to make room for suites in front of the gas station. The change is expected to slow the corner and create a passing zone.
– Turn 11 apex has been widened to 4 feet, providing a better vision for drivers.
– The pit lane speed limit was reduced from 45 mph to 40 mph, adding about three seconds to the total pit lane time.
– Transitions on and off the bridge in both directions have been remodeled and remodeled to reduce the impact of bumps. A year ago, only the asphalt was repaired over and outside the bridges 20 feet after the transition. It has now been revamped to over 125 feet to make a smooth transition over long distances.
– A bump in Turn 5 has been remodeled to reduce the disturbance on the hill to the turnaround section of the course.
As part of IndyCar’s sustainability efforts, Firestone will be introducing its eco-friendly guayule tires later this week. The tire was used during the Pit Stop Challenge in Indianapolis in May, but has never been on the racetrack.
The tire is partly made from a new durable natural rubber derived from a gyule bush, which requires less re-harvesting than conventional sources of rubber. It will be used as an optional tire in Nashville later this week.
Guayule is a drought-resistant, heat-tolerant woody desert shrub native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. Natural rubber can be extracted from the shrub’s branches, bark and roots, but since guayule is not currently a commercial crop, bridgestone must produce seed and grow the crop.
The gyule is located within the natural rubber pavement. Bridgestone Race Tire engineers decided to use guayule rubber throughout the pavement because that area is made of the most natural rubber. This allows Firestone to maintain the same quality and performance as existing race tires.
Bridgestone plans to include gyule natural rubber in more of its race tires starting in 2023.
More Associated Press Auto Racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/ Associated Press_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.