Pato O'Ward Wins St. Petersburg IndyCar Race After Penske Drivers Disqualified

Pato O'Ward declared winner of IndyCar season opener after Penske drivers disqualified for push-to-pass violation, impacting championship standings.

Ayesha Mumtaz
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Pato O'Ward Wins St. Petersburg IndyCar Race After Penske Drivers Disqualified

Pato O'Ward Wins St. Petersburg IndyCar Race After Penske Drivers Disqualified

Pato O'Ward of Arrow McLaren has been declared the winner of the NTT IndyCar Series season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida after Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske were disqualified for violating "push to pass" parameters. Will Power, also of Team Penske, was penalized 10 points for a similar infraction but retained his fourth place finish.

IndyCar officials discovered during the warmup session for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 21, nearly two months after the St. Petersburg race, that Team Penske had manipulated the overtake system on the No. 2, 3, and 12 cars. This allowed the Penske drivers to use "push to pass" on starts and restarts, which is not permitted by IndyCar rules. "The championship's integrity is critical and new technical inspection procedures will be implemented to deter such violations," IndyCar said in a statement.

As a result of the disqualifications, Newgarden's 30th career IndyCar victory was stricken from the records and McLaughlin lost his third-place finish. O'Ward, who initially finished second, has now been credited with his first win since July 2022. Power was promoted to second place and Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport moved up to third.

Why this matters: The rare disqualifications significantly impact the IndyCar championship standings early in the 2024 season. Newgarden, a two-time series champion, falls from first to 11th in points, while McLaughlin drops from 10th to 29th. The revised standings see Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing take over the points lead.

Team Penske accepted the penalties, which included $25,000 fines for each car and forfeiture of all prize money from the St. Petersburg race. "The push-to-pass software was not removed as it should have been following recent hybrid testing," Team Penske President Tim Cindric acknowledged. This marks the second cheating offense for Team Penske in 2024, after NASCAR driver Joey Logano was penalized for wearing an illegal glove during qualifying.

Key Takeaways

  • Pato O'Ward declared winner of St. Petersburg IndyCar race after Penske drivers disqualified.
  • Penske manipulated "push to pass" system, violating IndyCar rules, leading to penalties.
  • Newgarden's 30th career win and McLaughlin's 3rd place finish stripped from records.
  • Revised standings see Scott Dixon take points lead, Newgarden and McLaughlin drop positions.
  • Penske fined $25,000 per car and forfeited prize money, marking 2nd 2024 cheating offense.