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Penske Penalties Promote O’Ward to St. Petersburg Win


Pato O’Ward is now a five-time INDYCAR winner after penalties were issued to Team Penske for violations in St. Petersburg. (Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

All the fun memories of St. Petersburg for Josef Newgarden and Team Penske back in March are over. INDYCAR announced on Wednesday that the three-car organization was found to be violating the “Push to Pass” parameters, which is deemed a Race Procedure Penalty. Therefore, the governing body laid the book on drivers Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin and Will Power, and they were all admonished for their actions.

Consequently, Newgarden’s 30th career INDYCAR win is no more after the penalties elevated runner-up finisher Pato O’Ward as the new race winner of March 10th’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. It ends O’Ward’s 22-race winless streak with his last win being the second leg of the Iowa Speedway doubleheader in 2022, a race that was also dominated by Newgarden before he crashed out of the race.

McLaughlin was also disqualified from his third place finish, which promoted Colton Herta onto the final step of the podium. As for Will Power, who finished fourth, he was not disqualified after it was discovered that he did not use any Push to Pass on restarts to gain an advantage compared to his teammates. Instead, Power was penalized 10 points and moved up to second in the updated results.

However, Power and the rest of his Penske teammates will face entry fines of $25,000 and forfeit all of its prize money from the season opener. All in large part due to the team manipulating the overtake system on restarts, which should not be available for use until reaching the alternative start/finish line.

INDYCAR President Jay Frye explained that the integrity of the championship is critical where actions had to be made to keep such integrity afloat; more so after the violations were discovered during last Sunday’s warmup session at Long Beach, putting the sport in a tough spot where changes must be made as a result.

“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,” said Frye. “Beginning with this week’s race at Barber Motorsports Park, new technical inspection procedures will be in place to deter this violation.”

Newgarden dropped from leading the championship trail after Long Beach, down to 11th in points heading into Sunday’s race at Barber Motorsports Park. Scott Dixon, who won last Sunday’s race in Southern California, leads the standings for the first time since leading the entire 2020 campaign. The six-time INDYCAR champion leads Herta by two points following Wednesday’s penalties.


Josef Newgarden now sits 11th in the INDYCAR standings (Photo: Owen Jackson | The Podium Finish).

According to the INDYCAR Rule Book, Penske violated the following “Push to Pass” procedures:

  • 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.

Team Penske President Tim Cindric issued a statement regarding the penalties from St. Petersburg:

“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 (Newgarden) and the No. 3 car (McLaughlin), both deployed Push to Pass on a restart, which violated INDYCAR rules. Team Penske accepts the penalties applied by INDYCAR.”

Coverage of the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix begins Sunday, April 28 at 1:00 p.m. ET on NBC. Penske will look to bounce back as their driver McLaughlin is the defending race winner.

UPDATED 2024 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Results

Finish Start Car No. Driver Sponsor/Make Laps Status
1 3 5 Pato O’Ward ARROW Chevrolet 100 Running
2 8 12 Will Power Verizon Chevrolet 100 Running
3 4 26 Colton Herta Gainbridge Honda 100 Running
4 13 10 Alex Palou DHL Honda 100 Running
5 2 60 Felix Rosenqvist AutoNation/SiriusXM/Bon Jovi Radio Honda 100 Running
6 15 7 Alexander Rossi VELO Chevrolet 100 Running
7 11 9 Scott Dixon PNC Bank Honda 100 Running
8 7 21 Rinus VeeKay Chevrolet 100 Running
9 14 14 Santino Ferrucci Sexton Properties Chevrolet 100 Running
10 18 27 Kyle Kirkwood AutoNation Honda 100 Running
11 16 6 Callum Ilott NTT Data Chevrolet 100 Running
12 23 4 Kyffin Simpson (R) Journie Rewards Honda 100 Running
13 26 30 Pietro Fittipaldi OAKBERRY Açaí Bowls Honda 100 Running
14 22 15 Grahal Rahal Fifth Third Bank Honda 100 Running
15 17 66 Tom Blomqvist (R) AutoNation/Arctic Wolf Honda 100 Running
16 20 78 Agustin Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet 100 Running
17 27 18 Jack Harvey Invst Honda 100 Running
18 12 45 Christian Lundgaard Hy-Vee Honda 100 Running
19 21 20 Christian Rasmussen (R) GuyCare Chevrolet 99 -1 Lap
20 25 51 Colin Braun (R) Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing Honda 99 -1 Lap
21 19 8 Linus Lundqvist (R) The American Legion Honda 97 -3 Laps
22 5 77 Romain Grosjean Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet 82 Mechanical
23 6 28 Marcus Ericsson Delaware Life Honda 52 Mechanical
24 24 41 Sting Ray Robb Chevrolet 33 Off Course
25 10 11 Marcus Armstrong Ridgeline Honda 25 Contact
26 1 2 Josef Newgarden PPG Chevrolet 100 Disqualified
27 9 3 Scott McLaughlin DEX Imaging Chevrolet 100 Disqualified

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR and INDYCAR. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. On the side, I also do sports production ranging from Seattle Kraken hockey to the 2023 NCAA Women's March Madness. All for the love of the game. With four National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. At times, there might be some Paul Thomas Anderson and Southern California references in my social media.

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