Josef Newgarden on track during the IndyCar season opener. (Jason Van Horn Photo)

Newgarden, McLaughlin Disqualified From St. Pete Race

INDIANAPOLIS — Six weeks after the NTT IndyCar Series opener at St. Petersburg (Fla.), race winner Josef Newgarden and his Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin have been disqualified from the event. 

Team Penske’s Will Power was also assessed a 10-point penalty from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on March 10.

Team Penske was in violation of the following “Push to Pass” parameters:

• 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.

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 ( that includes the forfeiture of points and awards.

During the April 21 warmup session ahead of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in California, IndyCar discovered the team’s possible rules violation.

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.

It was determined that the No. 2 (Newgarden) and the No. 3 (McLaughlin) gained a competitive advantage by using Push to Pass on restarts while the No. 12 did not.

Additionally, all three entries have been fined $25,000 and will forfeit all prize money associated with the Streets of St. Petersburg race.

“The integrity of the IndyCar Series championship is critical to everything we do,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “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.

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

Team Penske President Tim Cindric released a statement, accepting the penalty. 

“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,” Cindric said. “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.”

Due to the disqualification penalty of the No 2, the No. 5 entry of Arrow McLaren driven by Pato O’Ward is now credited with the win on the Streets of St. Petersburg.