Michael Andretti pleased Roger Penske took action with suspensions but 'disappointed it took so long'

INDIANAPOLIS – After being among the most outspoken in the IndyCar paddock about the push to pass scandal, Michael Andretti is pleased Roger Penske took further action against this team.

But the Andretti Global team owner still questions the efficacy of the punishment.

Penske suspended four team members, most notably team president Tim Cindric, after completing an internal investigation of the illegal use of the push-to-pass button in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener. IndyCar officials disqualified race winner Josef Newgarden and third-place finisher Scott McLaughlin for the infractions, but it took nearly two weeks for Penske to issue its punishments.

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Andretti said last week he would have fired Rob Edwards, who is Andretti Global’s chief operating officer and roughly the management equivalent of Cindric, if the controversy had erupted at this team. Andretti reiterated that point while reacting to the Penske suspensions during a Friday interview with NBC Sports.

“If I was in that position I probably would have fired (Cindric), but at least (Penske) did something, so I was happy about that,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “Is it going to be a real penalty? No, because they have the war rooms. So they’re still going to be very much involved, but they're not going to be on the premises. But yeah, he had to do something because it just didn't look good.

“What’s disappointing is it took him so long to do it. And it probably came from the pressure of Chevrolet, I would think. Like I said, and I told (Penske) to his face, if I didn't know about it and somebody did that, they'd be gone, you know? It's his reputation, that would be my reputation, and that's why I'm disappointed he didn’t fire anyone You wonder then if he knew something.”

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Michael Andretti blasts Team Penske response to push to pass scandal: ‘None of the stories matched up’

In an interview with Kenny Wallace, the Andretti Global owner says he would have handled the controversy ‘a lot differently.’

There also was pressure on Penske from IndyCar drivers and team members, who found Newgarden’s explanation for why he illegally used push to pass on restarts less than believable. During a podcast interview with NASCAR veteran Kenny Wallace last week, Andretti called out Penske’s reaction to the scandal and noted that “none of the stories matched up.”

Asked by NBC Sports if the suspensions sent a good message to the paddock, Andretti said Friday that “it’s a better message. It could have been done earlier. It's sort of like you had to get outside pressure to get it done, but at least he did it.”

In addition to the suspensions, Penske also has stipulated that its suspended employees won’t be allowed to communicate with the team while cars are on the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this month.

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Andretti, though, is skeptical about how such a policy would be enforced and openly wondered whether IndyCar would keep an eye on if the team were in compliance (while adding that his team “easily” could circumvent a communications ban).

“I hope they monitor it some way,” Andretti said. “But I know we could easily do it. And so I'm sure they can.”

When asked by NBC Sports, an IndyCar spokesman said the series would have no involvement in how Team Penske handled its internal suspensions.

Though he is prevented from being at Indy this month, Cindric was spotted Friday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, where Porsche Penske Motorsport will be racing Sunday in IMSA.

With the IndyCar Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Saturday's Sonsio Grand Prix on the track's road course (3 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock), reaction to the Team Penske suspensions have been a big story. Andretti drivers Colton Herta and Marcus Ericsson praised Penske's punishments Thursday.

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