IndyCar Disqualified The Winner Of A Race That Happened 45 Days Ago

Image: IndyCar
Image: IndyCar

The season-opening round of the 2024 IndyCar season, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, took place on March 10, a month and a half ago. So when IndyCar officials announced the disqualification of Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, as well as a 10-point penalty for Will Power on Wednesday morning, it came as something of a shock. Apparently the Team Penske racers were found to be in violation of the “Push to Pass” rules. The cars in question were found to be non-regulated during a warm up session to last weekend’s Grand Prix of Long Beach, at which point the data from St. Pete was reviewed.

The rules that Team Penske has been determined to have violated are enumerated below:

  • Rule 14.19.15. An indicator to enable Push to Pass will be sent via CAN communication from the timing and scoring beacon on board the Car to the team data logger. This signal must be passed on to the ECU unmodified and uninterrupted during all Road and Street Course Events.

  • Rule 14.19.16. Race Starts and any Race Restart that occurs before the lap prior to the white flag or prior to three minutes remaining in a timed Race Event will have the Push to Pass system disabled and will be enabled for a given Car once that Car reaches the alternate Start/Finish line.

According to IndyCar, Team Penske manipulated the overtake system in a way that Newgarden, McLaughlin, and Power were able to use the Push to Pass button on race starts and restarts, where they are forbidden. It was determined from the data that Newgarden and McLaughlin gained a competitive advantage from the P2P cheat, while Power did not, leading to the penalties being distributed as they were.

“The integrity of the INDYCAR SERIES championship is critical to everything we do,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “While the violation went undetected at St. Petersburg, INDYCAR discovered the manipulation during Sunday’s warmup in Long Beach and immediately addressed it ensuring all cars were compliant for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Beginning with this week’s race at Barber Motorsports Park, new technical inspection procedures will be in place to deter this violation.”

Because of Newgarden’s disqualification from the race lead, Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward inherits the race victory. Newgarden will also lose all points associated with the race victory, dropping him from the lead of the championship and allowing this weekends winner Scott Dixon to top the points heap.

It’s not very common that a race victory is taken away from a driver, and particularly uncommon this late in the season. When it comes to penalizing a team, particularly one owned by the same guy that owns the series, Roger Penske, it is exceedingly important that the series remain impartial and transparent through this process. Kudos to Frye and his team for sussing out the situation and making the hard choices.

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