IndyCar at Barber: Scott McLaughlin wins; Will Power second for Penske in wake of push to pass scandal

Scott McLaughlin capped off a weekend of redemption for Team Penske, dominating from the pole position at Barber Motorsports Park.

After a caution flag with five laps remaining for a Christian Rassmussen spin, McLaughlin held off teammate Will Power and Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Linus Lundqvist (who made an impressive drive after starting 19th) for his first victory of the 2024 season and fifth of his career.

"We’re just going to keep rolling," McLaughlin told NBC Sports' Marty Snider. We know our job. We know what we need to do. I’m so proud of the execution. Super proud of everyone. Execution is our word and just keep it going. Really happy to bring home a checkered flag for Tteam Penske and Roger."

After having his third-place finish in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg disqualified because of illegally using push to pass, McLaughlin fell from 10th to last in the points standings entering the third race of this season — so he badly needed a strong result to salvage his championship hopes. McLaughlin improved from 29th to ninth in the standings with the victory.

"Let’s go," he said. "Let’s keep going."

Power, who was docked 10 points in the St. Pete penalties to Penske, finished where he started in second despite a last-minute engine change after the morning warmup. The two-time series champion also raced hard with McLaughlin in the middle of the race.

"You don’t want two Penske cars out of the race with everything that's going on," Power told NBC Sports' Kevin Lee. "I kind of took it easy on him in Turn 1. I made a little mistake and happened to take the outside line. Got back where we needed to be. Chevy gave us a new engine and did a phenomenal job to get that in a short time. I’m knocking on the door of a win. it’s going to come. We'll keep pushing for it."

After Lundqvist's career-best finish, Felix Rosenqvist and Alex Palou rounded out the top five.

"I’m extremely happy with a podium," Lundqvist told NBC Sports' Dillon Welch after his third start in Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 8 Dallra-Honda. "It’s been a little rough the first couple of races. The team did an amazing job. The Honda was super, super fast, I just listened to whatever they told me to do. They said be patient here, you’ll get your reward at the end, and I definitely did."

Josef Newgarden, the third Penske driver who had his St. Pete win stripped in the push to pass scandal, finished 16th after starting eighth.

Lap 76 — Penskes in command after pit stops

With 14 laps remaining, Team Penske pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin has made his final pit stop from the lead and seems in command at Barber Motorsports Park.

McLaughlin's No. 3 Dallara-Chevrolet leads by 3.4 seconds over teammate Will Power (who started second).

A trio of Honda drives is next on track: Alex Palou, Felix Rosenqvist and rookie Linus Lundqvist (who just pitted but has a shot at making the podium.

L52 — Mannequin down!

In a bizarre moment that fortunately didn't impact the race, a track mannequin fell adjacent to the racing surface on Lap 52 of 90.

The mannequin had been tied to a pedestrian bridge over a straightaway but came off its moorings and stuck the landing on its feet before toppling over, just as Santino Ferrucci's No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet went by on track at full speed.

IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey reports that the mannequin's name is "Georgina." It's one of many goofy props (such as an iconic oversized spider nicknamed "Charlotte's Web") that track owner George Barber (who admits to having a zany sense of humor) has placed around the track. There also are giant ants, a mini-Bigfoot and "a zombie Frenchman."

The race's third caution flag was displayed three laps later as Sting Ray Robb nailed the Turn 1 tire barrier on Lap 55. Robb told NBC Sports' Dillon Welch that he noticed the steering wheel seemed to have separated from its hub.

"The steering wheel came off in my hands in Turn 1," Robb said. "I went sideways and was holding on, and the wheel wasn’t doing anything. The hub was attached, but the steering wheel wasn’t attached to the hub. I don’t know if that was contact from earlier that caused that."

Alex Palou pitted from the lead under yellow, putting Ferrucci (Robb's A.J. Foyt Racing teammate) in front of Linus Lundqvist and Scott McLaughlin with 33 laps remaining. McLaughlin took the lead with 20 laps left when Ferrucci and Lundqvist pitted.

Lap 43 — Alexander Rossi loses left-rear tire

The second caution flag is out on Lap 43 for Alexander Rossi, whose team failed to secure his left-rear tire on the last pit stop.

The Arrow McLaren driver came to a stop as the tire rolled into the Barber Motorsports Park grass. The No. 7 Dallara-Chevrolet had to be transported back to the pits by a towing vehicle.

Scott McLaughlin, who has dominated from the pole position, was leading at the halfway point of the 90-lap race ahead of Christian Lundgaard, Will Power, Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist.
McLaughlin, Lundgaard and Power all pitted under the yellow for Rossi's tire, ceding the lead to Alex Palou. The defending series champion led on the Lap 49 restart while the trio of drivers the pitted all restarted outside the top 15 with 41 laps reamining.

During the yellow, Agustin Canapino spun while leaving the pits but avoided making contact.

Lap 35 — Newgarden off course

An emotional week for Team Penske's Josef Newgarden hit another low after the first round of green-flag pit stops at Barber Motorsports Park.

The two-time series champion went off course after colliding with the No. 11 Dallara-Honda Chip Ganassi Racing's Marcus Armstrong, who was attempting a pass on the inside. After the contact to his left rear, Newgarden managed to keep his No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet underneath him and briefly went through the grass but maintained his midpack position.

Newgarden had his St. Petersburg victory stripped four days earlier for illegally using push to pass during the season opener.

Teammate Scott McLaughlin also was disqualified from St. Pete for the same violation, but he has enjoyed a better Sunday. The No. 3 Dallara-Chevrolet star is leading by more than 7 seconds over Christian Lundgaard with 53 laps remaining.

Lap 25 — Ganassi split fortunes

It seems as if there will be no first-time Barber victory for Scott Dixon, but Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Alex Palou might have a strong shot.

After failing to advance in qualifying and staring 13th, Dixon collided with Graham Rahal and spun off course in Turn 5, losing several positions and falling outside the top 15.

Last week, the six-time series champion schooled the field on fuel conservation and strategy, and Palou seems well positioned at Barber

Though 25 laps, the two-time series champion is running third behind the Penske teammates Scott McLaughlin and Will Power. More importantly, Palou is being told by strategist Barry Wanser that he already could be in the catbird seat of the 90-lap event even though he trails the lead by 8.1 seconds.

Up front, McLaughlin has led every lap and has a 2-second lead on Power.

L1 — Early action is plentiful

The action-packed opening laps of Sunday's NTT IndyCar Series race at Barber Motorsports Park matched the intensity and drama from a hugely controversial week off the track.

The caution flag flew for the first time on Lap 5 for Pietro Fittipaldi, whose No. 30 Dallara spun into the Turn 13 wall after contact with Pato O'Ward, who was charging from the rear after spinning off course in Turn 5 on Lap 2. The Arrow McLaren driver received a drive-though penalty for avoidable contact.

Rinus VeeKay, who started last after an electrical problem in qualifying, was given an avoidable contact penalty for an incident on the first turn of the first lap. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver made contact with Kyffin Simpson, Sting Ray Robb and Jack Harvey.
All four cars were able to continue as were Colton Herta and Santino Ferrucci after early contact.

O'Ward, who had started fourth, had spun earlier while trying to avoid rear-ending Christian Lundgaard.

During the yellow for Fittipaldi, the lead-lap cars pitted, and McLaughlin maintained the lead on the Lap 11 restart.

Prerace storylines

After one of the most controversial weeks in series history, IndyCar will return to action today at Barber Motorsports Park with its most successful team still the top storyline.

Team Penske's Scott McLaughlin and Will Power swept the front row in qualifying, putting the embattled group in a strong position to complete a weekend of redemption at the 17-turn 2.3-mile road course. (Click here for the starting lineup.)

In another unfortunate twist for Penske, the engine in Power's No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet was changed after a misfire during the Sunday morning warmup practice.

IndyCar disqualified McLaughlin and winner Josef Newgarden from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener after officials discovered both drivers illegally
used push to pass during the race. Power, who had access to push to pass but didn't press the overtake button, was docked 10 points.

Newgarden, who steadfastly defended his honor while taking full blame during an emotional news conference Friday, will start eighth. The two-time series champion paced Friday's practice session.


‘I’m not a liar': Emotional Josef Newgarden ‘failed team miserably'; apologizes for ‘embarrassing’ IndyCar

Two-time IndyCar champion says he was unaware using push to pass on restarts was illegal at the time he did it.

In a prerace interview, Newgarden told NBC Sports' Marty Snider that he hadn't discussed the penalties with any fellow drivers.

"Today I'm really focused on the race," said Newgarden, who leads the series with three victories at Barber (including the first of his career in 2015) "I'm really focused on the team. They deserve that. I love racing, and this is the best part of the weekend is race day. We're just going to try to do our jobs. Hopefully whatever's thrown our way, we can make it happen. ... I'm just ready to go do my job. (The track) has been really good to me, and I love it. It's a great racetrack."

McLaughlin told NBC Sports' Kevin Lee before the race that he also was focused on the race and "leading the troops" after what he had said was a rough week.

After feeling sick after the morning warmup from a possible bout with food poisoning, Power told Lee that he was feeling better, as was his car.

"The boys had to thrash and do an engine change," Power said 20 minutes before the green flag. "We just got it done, so full credit to them. It's a very tough job to do. New engine, a new driver, let’s see what we can do. We have a very good car. I’m determined to get a win. Always have the championship in mind, but I’d love to get a win."

IndyCar: Streets of St. Petersburg - Practice & Qualifying
IndyCar: Streets of St. Petersburg - Practice & Qualifying

‘That’s a lie': What IndyCar drivers said about Josef Newgarden’s St. Pete disqualification

Many drivers don’t feel much sympathy for the two-time series champion.

The massive penalties to the team that is owned by IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske has brought a tidal wave of mostly angry reaction from the rest of the paddock.

To address the controversy and try to assuage concerns about competitive integrity, Roger Penske called an impromptu meeting with team owners in his motorhome at Barber before qualifying Saturday.

IndyCar Team Owners Before Meeting with Roger Penske
IndyCar Team Owners Before Meeting with Roger Penske

IndyCar owner Roger Penske meets with IndyCar team owners at Barber Motorsports Park

The 30-minute meeting was a chance to move beyond Josef Newgarden’s disqualification announcement