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IndyCar leadership addresses Penske DQs, clarifies timeline

The leadership of the IndyCar Series addressed the media on Friday afternoon to discuss the disciplinary actions put down on Team Penske and changes moving forward.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

IndyCar officials disqualified St. Petersburg race winner Josef Newgarden and third-place finisher Scott McLaughlin for illegally using the push-to-pass overtake system in last month’s season-opener.

Despite having access to the same overtake as his Team Penske team-mates, Will Power did not receive the same punishment after data showed no wrongful use. Instead, he received a 10-point deduction, but his finish was elevated to second after the disqualification of Newgarden and McLaughlin.

All three drivers also forfeited their race winnings from St. Petersburg and were fined $25,000 each.

The owner of the team under fire by the paddock, Roger Penske, also possesses the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There are currently more questions than answers, to which Penske Entertainment President and CEO Mark Miles and IndyCar President Jay Frye publicly addressed the situation.

“We think job one for the series is to enforce the rules and uphold the integrity of the sport, and nothing will keep us from doing that as best as we can,” Miles said.

“In this case, a thorough investigation was conducted. Jay and the team and a whole lot of expert engineers looked into all the data and everything they could, including going back to every weekend in 2023, every championship weekend where we found nothing.

“We reached the conclusions that we reached and enforced the penalties that we thought were appropriate. I want to compliment Jay and the team for doing the right things and handling it professionally.”

Changes moving forward

With this particular situation being a software breach, Frye stated how it will be prevented moving forward in the inspection process.

“The CLU [Central Logging Unit] on the cars with the teams will all be locked now, where before they were unlocked. So, that's one way to prevent this from going forward,” Frye said.

“There's a couple things, from a race control perspective, it'll be different that will highlight things like this that will make it even more obvious.

“If you look at what happened in Long Beach, it was very obvious, right? Everybody saw what happened. Once we saw what happened, we immediately brought the team in the truck that day at Long Beach, right after warm-up. We visually observed them fixing the issue with the car, the CLU.”

Explaining the timeline

All of this begged the question of how this issue wasn’t found during or directly after the St. Petersburg weekend.

“Obviously, we did not catch it at St. Pete,” Frye said. “That's on us, right? So, we have to go back and evaluate what we did or what we didn't do at that point. There's been talk about the amount of time it took from St. Pete to Long Beach to address this.

“Obviously, if St. Pete and Long Beach would've been back-to-back versus five weeks apart, the outcome would've been the same. We think at Long Beach when we address this infraction, we think we reacted very quickly; assessed the penalty very quickly. Again, that was the biggest part about this taking so long was just the time between St. Pete and Long Beach.”

When asked by Autosport if any teams raised complaints to him to look over any data after St. Petersburg, Frye stated: “I can't recall any of them doing that, no.”

Additionally, there has been the thought of how the fines are actually handled considering Penske is the owner of both the team and the series.

“There's no financial connection between Team Penske and Penske Entertainment or the IndyCar series,” Miles said. “So, if a fine is to be paid, it'll be paid by Team Penske and it'll come to IndyCar.”

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet, Roger Penske

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet, Roger Penske

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

And Miles also shared thoughts on why Penske has yet to speak publicly about the situation.

“Certainly, his choice as to when he wants to appear where and how to conduct himself and whether he'll communicate and with whom is on him to decide both, whether and when,” Miles said.

“I would just say from our perspective, I think Jay feels exactly the same way, what was really important to us was there was never any question of any interference. We could be objective and handle the data in the same way that we would've handled it from any other team.”

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