Star Driver Apologizes for Breaking Rules in Tainted Win

Stripped of IndyCar victory, Josef Newgarden calls rule-breaking embarrassing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 26, 2024 2:50 PM CDT
Star Driver Apologizes for Breaking Rules in Tainted Win
Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden races during a qualifying session for the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach auto race Saturday in Long Beach, California.   (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Josef Newgarden blinked back tears Friday as he accepted blame for manipulating the push-to-pass system in his season-opening IndyCar win that has since been stripped. The two-time series champion insisted he didn't intentionally break the rules, the AP reports. Newgarden held an emotional 25-minute news conference at Barber Motorsports Park in his first public comments since IndyCar punished him Wednesday by taking away his March 10 victory at St. Petersburg, Florida. The decision has thrown IndyCar into turmoil as it prepares for next month's showcase Indianapolis 500.

"I want to deeply apologize to our fans, our partners, my teammates, the competitors that I race against," Newgarden said, adding: "I've worked my entire career to hold myself to a very high standard, and clearly I've fallen very short of that in this respect. It's a difficult thing to wrestle with. It's a very embarrassing thing to go through." Newgarden said the disqualification and stripping of the win were the right decisions by the open-wheel series whose owner, Roger Penske, runs Newgarden's team and is one of the giants in motorsports.

Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin, who finished third, also was disqualified, while fourth-place finisher Will Power was docked 10 points though he wasn't accused of wrongdoing. The Penske drivers were fined $25,000 because the manipulated systems were on all three cars. Team Penske has maintained that the push-to-pass system on its three Chevrolets was used in a test session for upcoming hybrid engines and then mistakenly not replaced before the start of the season. It remained on the cars for three races, and onboard videos clearly show Newgarden illegally using push-to-pass to gain position on at least one restart at St. Petersburg. IndyCar prohibits using the system on starts and restarts. Penske, Newgarden said, "did not take it well. I was interrogated at first."

  • MotorSport lists major cheating scandals in racing here.
(More IndyCar stories.)

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