INDIANAPOLIS – Two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was cleared Thursday to practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway following his collapse after crashing at Iowa.

Newgarden will be reevaluated today after practice to determine if he can compete Saturday on the road course at Indianapolis.

Newgarden was leading and headed to a sweep of the Iowa doubleheader Sunday when the suspension on his Team Penske car broke and he smashed hard into the wall. The driver from Nashville was evaluated in the Iowa medical center and cleared, but was required to undergo a second check Thursday by IndyCar officials at the speedway.

But not long after leaving the care center, Newgarden lost consciousness and collapsed in the motor home lot. He hit his head on the pavement, opening a wound, and was airlifted to a Des Moines hospital and held overnight.

Team Penske stated all tests on Newgarden had been negative and he was held overnight as a precaution. The 31-year-old returned to Nashville on Monday and visited a specialist this week ahead of traveling to Indianapolis.

Team Penske had Santino Ferrucci on standby in case IndyCar said Newgarden can not race Saturday on the road course.

He arrived late afternoon at the speedway for another round of tests and was cleared Thursday evening to race.

Newgarden, who won Saturday’s race, dominated and led 148 of the 300 laps while trying to sweep the doubleheader weekend. He was shown as the points leader ahead of the hard collision – IndyCar confirmed his hit into the wall registered more than 80 G’s of force – and he was so rattled by the crash that he said “definitely rocked me. I got a little bit shaken from it, but I’m OK.”

The crash dropped Newgarden to a tie with Scott Dixon for third in the standings with five races remaining.

Palou says he will race for McLaren

Defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou, who has contracts signed with two different race teams for 2023 and is being sued by Chip Ganassi Racing, declared Thursday: “I will be in the McLaren family next year.”

The soap opera over Palou’s future continued with more twists and turns than the Spaniard will face in Saturday’s road course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Ganassi this week filed a lawsuit in Marion County Superior Court in Indianapolis that names as defendants both Palou and ALPA Racing, which is listed as Palou’s “racing entity.”

At issue is the contract Ganassi holds with the 25-year-old driver. The team owner says he picked up his exclusive option on Palou to bring him back next year for a third season; Palou says he informed CGR he’s leaving and signed a contract with McLaren Racing.

McLaren boss Zak Brown has not decided if he will use Palou in a third IndyCar seat or in Formula One, but Palou for the first time since the saga began July 12 firmly stated he will be wearing McLaren’s orange next season.

“We are disappointed that Chip Ganassi Racing would attempt to keep Alex from an opportunity to compete in Formula One, and even more so with CGR’s public court filings and continued commentary to the press on this matter,” Palou’s attorney, Rachel Epstein of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, said Thursday. “We would hope the parties can resolve this amicably, but if not, we look forward to resolving this matter in a private arbitration, as CGR has requested.”

Epstein is the first to acknowledge that a shot in F1 is a primary reason for Palou wanting to leave Ganassi. Palou has not divulged much about his reasoning for jumping from the No. 10 car after only two seasons.

He has never driven or tested an F1 car before but does hold the super license required by governing body FIA to compete in the world’s top motorsports series.

Palou lost ground last weekend during the Iowa Speedway doubleheader and heads into Saturday’s race sixth in the standings.

Asked if he can still win the championship amid all the distractions, Palou said “it will be amazing when I do.”

Among those who aren’t sure about Palou’s character are star Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward, who could be teammates in IndyCar with Palou next year.

Palou’s contract is with McLaren Racing, which means Brown can use him anywhere. O’Ward’s contract is with Arrow McLaren – and both want a shot at F1.

“I think many drivers thought we knew who he was,” O’Ward said. “I feel like he’ll say a lot of things but then he does the complete opposite, which I don’t think is a secret. We’ve all seen it. It kind of seems like reverse psychology, so whatever he’s saying, expect the absolute difference.”