INDYCAR Notes for This Weekend

Ricardo Juncos, Callum Ilott, Brad Hollinger.
Ricardo Juncos, Callum Ilott, Brad Hollinger
Ricardo Juncos, Callum Ilott, Brad Hollinger.

This weekend the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is sharing its ancestral home’s road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with NASCAR’s Cup Series and Xfinity Series. it’s a two-day adventure for the open-wheel set, with practice and qualifying on Friday and racing on Saturday.

On Thursday afternoon, INDYCAR announced that Josef Newgarden has been provisionally cleared to return to the racetrack this weekend after his hard hit in the second Iowa race on Sunday – he won Saturday’s race – and the post-accident fall and likely concussion that sent him to hospital. Dr. Geoffrey Billows will again evaluate Newgarden after Friday morning’s practice and make certain he’s well enough to both qualify on Friday afternoon and race on Saturday in the 85-lap Gallagher Grand Prix on Indy’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.

“The examination determined that Newgarden is cleared to participate in tomorrow’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session on the Indianapolis motor Speedway road course,” Dr Billows’ statement read. “Newgarden will be re-evaluated after the session to determine if he’s cleared to resume all racing activities for the remainder of the Gallagher Grand Prix event.”

Newgarden, driver of Team Penske’s No. 2 Dallara/Chevrolet, was in command of the second Iowa Speedway contest when a shock absorber failure tossed him into the wall. Had he remained in the race, he most likely would have swept the weekend and thus led the points standings, but he remains in third place with 369 points, behind Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson, winner of the 106th Indianapolis 500 who has 403 points and teammate Will Power, in second place with 395 points. Newgarden is actually in a tie with Scott Dixon for third, while Patricio O’Ward, who won race No. 2 at Iowa, is fifth with 367 points. That makes this weekend’s contest a vital one for all, as Alex Palou is sixth with 359 points.

The soap opera surrounding the career of Alex Palou, currently driving the No. 10 NTT DATA Dallara/Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing has taken another twist. Ganassi is suing Palou for not continuing with the team after its owner exercised his option for next year, shortly before both Arrow McLaren SP and Palou announced he’d be joining that team in 2023. On Thursday, Palou reiterated that he’ll be wearing the papaya orange colors of McLaren in 2023, but the series he’ll be running is anyone’s guess.

Juncos Hollinger Racing, whose shops are less than half a mile from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, stated it has exercised its option on Callum Ilott for 2023 and beyond, securing that driver’s services before another team swept in and claimed him. The 23-year-old Briton has qualified inside the top-12 at all road courses so far this season; he started seventh in May on the IMS road course and finished eighth.

Team co-owner Ricardo Juncos said Ilott signed a long-term contract for “the foreseeable future” after an initial three-race tryout in 2021 and this year’s full season. Juncos said he made the choice of Ilott from a list of five available and competent pilots. “Even when Callum was not on the radar for most of the teams here in the states, I knew he was the perfect fit for our team. Together with our new members of JHR, we have proven so much in a short time, which is incredible with the caliber of drivers and teams currently in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. This is just the beginning of a new era at JHR and I’m looking forward to continuing our work with Callum and to the results we know we can achieve together as a team.”

Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ Gallagher Grand Prix will be shown live on NBC beginning at noon on Saturday.

About Anne Proffit 1268 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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