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Herta not sold on Newgarden’s P2P explanation

Colton Herta suspected something funny was going on with Josef Newgarden and his No. 2 Team Penske Chevy at St. Petersburg.

With hindsight, we now know Newgarden was illegally using IndyCar’s push-to-pass system on restarts when the function was disabled for the rest of the field, and in Herta’s case, when his No. 26 Andretti Global Honda was passed with speed and authority by Newgarden on the first restart, he alerted teammate Kyle Kirkwood to the situation.

“I sent that video to Kyle. I was the one that screen recorded it and sent it to Kyle. And this was right after St. Pete. I said, ‘Man, did Chevy really gain this much in the offseason? It looks like he’s on push-to-pass.’” Herta said after watching Newgarden’s press conference Friday morning at Barber Motorsports Park.

“I get a better exit and he still closes up to me. I sent it to Kyle and he’s like, ‘Dude, it looks like he’s on overtake.’ I would have never thought that somebody was doing that. I just thought it was Chevy gains in the offseason and maybe they have some special restart power mix and it’s off the hook.”

Newgarden spent 30 minutes citing a misunderstanding of the push-to-pass rules for his repeated illegal use of the system while streaking away to victory at St. Petersburg. Herta isn’t buying it.

“I’d be confused by that statement. I know better. Everybody knows the rules,” he said. “It’s said in every drivers’ briefing where overtake is allowed. He’s driven the car for how long? I don’t feel bad at all. I don’t know how you can not know the rules. I just don’t understand that [for] somebody that’s been in the series for 10 years.”

Although Herta, along with many other drivers who spoke with the media Friday morning, expressed no sympathy for Newgarden or Team Penske, he said the ordeal hasn’t tainted his view of the series or the other teams.

“I don’t think everybody’s a cheater,” he said. “Maybe this was just a mistake. But it’s hard to think it was a mistake when you keep it in the car in Long Beach and expect to use it again, no matter what you say about why it was in the car.”

Herta also scoffed at the $25,000 fine assessed to Team Penske, which is owned by IndyCar Series owner Roger Penske.

“It just moves from savings to checking,” he said with a laugh.

 

* This story has been updated since its original publication to reflect that Herta passed the video on to Kyle Kirkwood, not IndyCar race director Kyle Novak. The error was made by the author.

Story originally appeared on Racer