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Newgarden presses ahead despite injuries; keen to stay in title fight (VIDEO)

Firestone 600 - Practice

FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 10: Josef Newgarden, driver of the #21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, prepares to drive during practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 10, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

Patrick Smith

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Josef Newgarden said his hand is hurting more than his collarbone following the first practice session for this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America (Sunday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), but is determined to continue in the No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing.

“Actually both hands hurt. I think the clavicle will hold up alright. It’s a little sore but I think it’ll be OK for the weekend,” Newgarden said in a quickly organized and brief media availability Friday at Road America.

“I think [the pain level] has levelled. I don’t think it’s getting worse through the session which is good. That would have been more of a problem, but it’s just kind of dealing with the inflammation really and just trying to keep it down on the weekend really that’s the battle.”

The 4.014-mile Road America circuit is known for its heavy levels of braking on the three long straights, but Newgarden said it wasn’t a huge factor or hurt him very much.

“I think it’s just really my hands in general what hurt’s the worst,” he explained. “The braking’s really not too bad. Braking actually feels great. It’s a little sore like I said, but it’s not been as big of a problem as I thought it would be, so I think the braking’s actually not an issue I would say.”

Newgarden had a bit of simulator work prior to getting back in the car today.

“Really my wrist was the issue actually after the accident,” he said. “I think I got the wrist sorted out, now it’s just the break and supporting the hand in general which I’ve got braces made for that now which have helped. But still trying to fight through a bit of the pain of it being supported.

“I think it just needs to be supported really well for me to feel good. I learned a little bit yesterday in the simulator and learned more now in the first session, and I think we’ll just keep tuning on it, like we would a race car just keep tuning on the body and get it where it needs to be.”

The fact that the race is at Elkhart Lake’s Road America, rather than a more demanding short oval such as Iowa Speedway, for example, was important for Newgarden to be able to drive this weekend.

“This being Road America, I actually caught a break,” he explained. “If we were racing at Iowa this weekend, I’d probably not be in the car. I just don’t think I would have be able to do something like Iowa.

“It’s too much loading on that side of the right shoulder. Here it’s mainly left shoulder loading where you’re getting compressed. It’s predominantly right-handers, you’ve got long straightaways.

“It’s still very physical here but it’s not like at Iowa. Just the circumstances of where it’s physical here and how it’s physical is a much more favorable track than what Iowa would have been for this weekend.”

The 25-year-old American has worked tirelessly to get back behind the wheel of his No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing to maintain momentum in the Verizon IndyCar Series season and not lose a race.

“I don’t want to miss out on anything. I would have been so sad if I missed this race,” he said, as he enters the weekend fourth in points.

“I don’t want to miss any race. We’ve got a shot of winning the championship and I’d like to keep that alive. So that’s a big component for me, it’s a big component for why I worked hard to get to this point. Keep going, got a couple of more days and we’ll see where we end up.”

Newgarden also caught up with NBCSN during this morning’s first practice. That interview is below.

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