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McLaughlin knew rules but has ‘no recollection’ of pressing overtake button

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin says he “genuinely, genuinely” doesn’t remember pressing the overtake button that got him disqualified from the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg.

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

McLaughlin, along with his race-winning team-mate Josef Newgarden, was stripped of his podium finish in the season opener at the Floridian street track after it was discovered they both illegally used the push-to-pass overtake system following restarts, when the system should’ve been disabled.

“I learned about this whole thing on Tuesday after Long Beach,” McLaughlin said. “I don't have any recollection of actually touching the button, but the data is black and white.

“I did touch it. I accept the penalty, I move on. That's all I can do. I've got to just keep pushing on and just focus on the job at hand.

“I gained no time advantage. I didn't pass a car with it, and the restarts after that and the start of the race, I didn't use it either.

“I had no idea that this was even an issue till the Tuesday after Long Beach. When Tim [Cindric, Team Penske's president] rang me, it was like 12 o'clock and I was just as surprised as anyone.

“And like I said, I had no recollection actually pushing it at St. Pete in the spot that I did – I genuinely, genuinely don't. But I did and accept that and move on.”

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

When asked why he didn’t speak to Newgarden, who claims he was under the misapprehension that using the overtake system was allowed in 2024, McLaughlin said he was well aware that he shouldn’t use push-to-pass at restarts but did it “out of habit”.

“We're pretty transparent, but there's obviously some things that weren't said on that side and... I know that there wasn't a rule change,” he added. “I read the rule book and that's how it was, but unfortunately, I've pushed the button out of habit on the first race restart of the year. We've done it before in the past. It's just how it is.

“I've read the rule book and I do it every year. I know the rule didn't change and it’s just a habitual thing that, that unfortunately happened. I can't even remember doing it. It’s black and white, I accept the penalty.”

McLaughlin confirmed that he’d been in contact with team owner Roger Penske “all week” and added: “He's got full trust in what I stand for as a driver and, and where we go moving forward, he knows that I can come back and win this championship and that's what we're focused on right now.

“The best part for me is getting back in a race car and driving that thing as fast as I can.”

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Despite only having five points after two races – following a gearbox failure at Long Beach last weekend – McLaughlin remains upbeat about his chances.

“I can still win the championship and that's, that's my focus moving forward,” McLaughlin told Motorsport.com. “I have no doubt we can win this race this weekend.

“I have no doubt that team Chevy are gonna give me the best engines possible and best fuel mileage, and we'll just keep working hard together as a team. And I'm excited for the challenge.”

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