Joe Skinbinski
Scott McLaughlin climbs into his Team Penske entry at St. Petersburg. (Joe Skibinski photo)

McLaughlin Issues Statement On St. Pete DQ

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Scott McLaughlin took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to give his statement on the events that led to both himself and Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden’s disqualification from the March 10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

IndyCar officials disqualified both drivers, including race-winner Newgarden and third-place McLaughlin, when they discovered the push-to-pass system had been manipulated. The problem wasn’t discovered by IndyCar until after Sunday morning warmup prior to the April 21 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“First and foremost, I am proud to be a member of Team Penske,” McLaughlin tweeted. “I fully stand with every one of my teammates. Simply put, a mistake was made. I have the highest left of integrity and it is important to protect both my own reputation and that of the team. I was not aware of the situation with the software.

“In this instance, I used a single, very brief (1.9 second) deployment of push to pass in a section of the track exit of Turn 9 where it is typically utilized throughout the race. I hit the button out of habit, but I did not pass any cars, nor did I gain any time advantage. The data, which IndyCar has, confirms all of this information. While I accept the penalty, I want to be clear that I did not gain an advantage over my competitors.

“IndyCar’s competition is the best in the world, and I would take no pleasure in achieving success in any way other than honestly. We will press forward from here and focus on the task at hand this weekend in Barber.”

Newgarden becomes the first winning driver in IndyCar to be disqualified since Al Unser, Jr. at Portland in 1995. That was also with Team Penske and team owner Roger Penske appealed CART’s ruling on Unser’s disqualification.

Team Penske won the appeal and Unser’s victory was reinstated at the end of the season.

On April 24, Team Penske President Tim Cindric said the team would stand by IndyCar’s decision and not appeal.

“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,” Team Penske President Tim Cindric said in a statement. “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.”

Because Newgarden’s win was disqualified, Scott Dixon becomes the new points leader in the NTT IndyCar Series with 79 points.

Colton Herta of Andretti Global is second, two points behind with two-time and reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou third, 12 points back. Pato O’Ward, who was given the victory at St. Pete with Newgarden’s DQ, is fourth, 15 back and Team Penske’s Will Power is fifth, 20 behind.

Power was fined, but not disqualified, by IndyCar.

Breaking Down Team Penske’s Disqualifications

O’Ward’s win was the first for Arrow McLaren Team Principal Gavin Ward since he joined the team, moving over from Team Penske.

“It’s awesome to get a win and a real strong result, just for the amount of effort this team puts in,” Ward said. “This team is full of an incredible group of characters, and they have been grinding so hard trying to get results like this.

“Hopefully, this is the first of many for me in the role as a team principal. I was hoping to celebrate this first one for me in a different way in Victory Lane with all of our team but at the end of the day, when you win, you win so we will enjoy this.”

According to IndyCar, members may contest the imposition of the penalties detailed in the review and appeal procedures of the NTT IndyCar Series rulebook.

“Chevrolet is disappointed that Team Penske violated an NTT IndyCar Series rule resulting in the disqualification of the No. 2 car and No. 3 car and the penalty to the No. 12 car from the St. Petersburg Grand Prix,” Jim Campbell, GM US Vice President Performance and Motorsports said in a statement.

“We support IndyCar’s decision and action,” said Campbell.

On Thursday, Will Power also issued a statement.