Newgarden and McLaughlin disqualified from the IndyCar season opener as Team Penske “manipulated the overtake system”

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Owens
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In an absolutely extraordinary development, Josef Newgarden (P1) and Scott McLaughlin (P3) have been disqualified from the opening round of the 2024 IndyCar season that took place in St. Pete almost 7 weeks ago.

During morning warmup ahead of the Long Beach race last Sunday, IndyCar officials had spotted that something was amiss, leading to the disqualification of both cars.

It turned out that both Newgarden and McLaughlin used push-to-pass at the start and on restarts — that is strictly forbidden in the series. IndyCar says Team Penske had illegally exploited the system and both drivers got disqualified.

Will Power’s car had the same software but the Australian driver did not use it. The disqualifications of his teammates means he finishes P2. However, he has been handed a 10-point deduction.

The biggest beneficiary of all this is Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward. The Mexican had finished P2 on the road and has now been declared the winner of the season opener. It’s his first win since Iowa in 2022.

In the championship, Scott Dixon now leads it following his superb victory at Long Beach. He has 79 points, 2 clear of Colton Herta and 12 ahead of teammate and defending champion Alex Palou.

Josef Newgarden drops to 11th in the standings on 34 points. Scott McLaughlin is all the way down in P29 as he failed to finish last weekend at Long Beach.

Full IndyCar press release:

INDYCAR has announced penalties for Team Penske, including disqualifications for the No. 2 (driver Josef Newgarden) and No. 3 (Scott McLaughlin) and a 10-point penalty for No. 12 (Will Power) from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Sunday, March 10 on the Streets of St. Petersburg.

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 Sunday, April 21 warmup session ahead of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, 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 and the No. 3 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.”

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.

Team Penske statement:

“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.” — Tim Cindric, President, Team Penske.