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Why Josef Newgarden got Disqualified from GP of St. Pete

Six weeks after the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg ended IndyCar announced a big penalty for Team Penkse. Race winner Josef Newgarden and teammate Scott McLaughlin got disqualified. While Will Power got a 10 point deduction. Why did IndyCar take such drastic measures?

Wednesday morning IndyCar dropped a massive press release announcing the big penalties for Team Penske concerning the season opener in the Grand Prix of St. Pete. According to IndyCar they found a possible violation of the overtake rules during the Grand Prix of Long Beach warm up session.

“An extensive review of data from the race on the Streets of St. Petersburg revealed that Team Penske manipulated the overtake system so that the No. 2, 3 and 12 cars had the ability to use Push to Pass on starts and restarts. According to the INDYCAR rulebook, use of overtake is not available during championship races until the car reaches the alternate start-finish line.”

Penske Push to Pass parameters

Team Penkse was in violation according to the following rules:

  • 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.

IndyCar also stated:

“According to the rulebook, the violation is considered a Race Procedure Penalty (9.2.2.), which includes the right to reposition the Driver/Car in the posting or results, with a disqualification (9.2.2.6.) that includes the forfeiture of points and awards.”

While Team Penske could contest the ruling a statement by Penske President Tim Cindric stated:

“Unfortunately, the Push to Pass software was not removed as it should have been, following recently completed hybrid testing in the Team Penske Indy cars, this software allowed for Push to Pass to be deployed during restarts at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix race, when it should not have been permitted. The No. 2 car driven by Josef Newgarden and the No. 3 car driven by Scott McLaughlin both deployed Push to Pass on a restart, which violated INDYCAR rules. Team Penske accepts the penalties applied by INDYCAR.”

Official St. Pete results

The disqualifications of Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin mean that all drivers are promoted several spots. Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward, who initially finished second, is declared the winner of the Grand Prix of St. Pete. Team Penske’s Will Power was not disqualified is promoted into second place. Notably IndyCar found that Power did not gain an advantage on restarts. However, the Australian was deducted 10 championship points.

The final spot on the podium goes to Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta. The Californian driver initially finished in fifth place. The 24-year-old now has two podiums in two official IndyCar races in 2024.

IndyCar Championship implications

Not only the race results are effected, but also the IndyCar Championship standings now look totally different. Long Beach Grand Prix winner Scott Dixon is now the leader of the IndyCar Series championship with 79 points. All of a sudden Herta possesses second in the driver’s standings at 77 points. Reining IndyCar Series Champion Alex Palou is in third place with 67 points.

After the disqualification Newgarden dropped to eleventh place in the championship standings. His teammate McLaughlin dropped all the way to twenty-ninth. The Bus Bro’s have a lot to do to gain back this lost ground.

Team Penske and the rest of IndyCar don’t have time to sit back as the next race of the season is around the corner. This weekend Barber Motorsport Park hosts the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix.

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