This Hands-Off Maneuver Might Be The Best Save You See All Year

Fred Smith
·2 min read
Photo credit: IndyCar / Peacock
Photo credit: IndyCar / Peacock

In most sports, the most impressive single thing you can do is a sign that things are going well. A great dunk, touchdown, or goal are all showcases of what happens when an exceptional athlete does everything right. In auto racing, however, one of the most amazing things a driver can do is react correctly when it all goes wrong at once. A save inherently involves losing control, whether through a mechanical issue, contact, or a mistake, and what makes it incredible is how the driver retains their composure with a quick reaction.

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Few reactions have looked as quick or as smooth as Josef Newgarden's tank slapper save in today's second IndyCar practice at Barber Motorsports park. Newgarden is coming through the track's final corner and onto the pit straight at full speed when he gets a little too optimistic and puts his right-side tires off the racing surface, spinning his car hard to the left. He reacts by countersteering hard to the right, which in turn forces the car to swing hard in the opposite direction while braking. The steering wheel then snaps out of his hands at high speeds, rotating in the direction the car is now turning, and he simply lets go, continues to slow, and eventually grabs the outside and straightens the car, prompting a third correction in the original direction, before rejoining the racing line as if nothing had happened.

Newgarden did all of this with a yolk-shaped racing steering wheel, meaning that, once he pulled his hands away, he had nothing to grab onto and absolutely no control of the car's direct steering input for what came out to a few seconds. He still did not crash any of the three times the car changed direction in a straight line at racing speeds, and the only actual issue resulting from the incident was a briefly locked right-front.

Josef Newgarden has won two of the last four IndyCar championships, but lost last year's battle by 16 points. His fight for a third championship begins tomorrow. Thanks to this save, his team has been spared a long night of re-building a car and he will be ready to qualify later this afternoon.

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