Newgarden 15th in practice in return to cockpit after Texas crash

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Less than two weeks after sustaining a fractured clavicle and small fracture in his right hand at the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, Verizon IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden was back behind the wheel of the No. 21 Direct Supply/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

Newgarden ran 30 total laps in today’s two practice sessions for the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America. He wound up 15th on the overall time chart with a best lap of 1 minute, 43.8937 seconds (139.088 mph).

It was Newgarden’s first action in the car since he suffered the injuries in a crash with Conor Daly during the Firestone 600 that was suspended after 71 laps on June 12. Newgarden was cleared by INDYCAR Medical to practice after being observed in a racing simulator earlier this week.

“Both hands hurt overall,” Newgarden said after today's first practice, “but I think the clavicle will hold up. It’s a little sore, but I think it will be OK for the weekend.

“I feel the pain in the hands everywhere,” added the two-time race winner in 2015. “I think the clavicle has been surprisingly better than I thought. Braking and going into the corners is not much of an issue. It’s going to be sore, but I think I can manage the pain.”

Overall, Newgarden was content with the progress he has made and is looking forward to improving his car over the course of this weekend.

“I’m more optimistic than yesterday,” said the Hendersonville, Tenn., native. “I’m happy I was able to run today and see how I can get into the car. I think we have some more work over the weekend trying to get the performance where we need to from a car standpoint.

“I think we got a lot away from the car perspective. I am more focused about that more than what I’m dealing with. I think I can manage the pain over the weekend, but I’m more concerned with the car.”

Newgarden and the rest of the 22-car field return to the 4.014-mile permanent road course Saturday for a third practice session (noon-12:45 p.m. ET) and Verizon P1 Award knockout qualifying (4 p.m. ET). Both sessions will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and qualifying will air on a delay basis on NBCSN at 5:30 p.m. ET. The 50-lap race airs live Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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