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Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward Both Skeptical of Josef Newgarden’s St. Petersburg Explanation.

LEEDS, Ala. — Moments after Josef Newgarden spoke to the media to address his disqualification from the season-opening IndyCar race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Colton Herta entered the media bullpen behind the media center Friday (April 26)nand expressed his feelings on Newgarden’s explanations.

Newgarden was disqualified from winning at St. Petersburg after IndyCar discovered that he had used the push to pass boost system outside of when it is allowed to be used. Newgarden claimed that his crew thought the system was allowed to be used on starts and restarts.

Herta didn’t buy that reasoning.

“I don’t feel bad at all,” Herta said of Newgarden’s press conference. “Like, I don’t know how you couldn’t know the rules,” Herta said. “I just don’t understand that at all. Somebody that’s been the series for 10 years, yeah.”

See also
Josef Newgarden: "I Didn't Know I Did Something Wrong in St. Pete"

An onboard clip of Newgarden overtaking the California native on a restart circulated on social media where Newgarden activated push to pass to get by Herta. Herta sent that video to Kyle Kirkwood and was suspicious of Newgarden’s new-found speed.

“I was the one that screen recorded and sent it to Kyle and this was right after St. Pete,” Herta said. “I said, ‘Man, look at this. Like, did Chevy really gain this much in the off season? It looks like he’s on push to pass.’ I get a better exit and he still like closes up to me and you know, you’d have some sort of slipstreaming effect, but not really at St. Pete on the frontstraight, it’s pretty, pretty short. And I sent it to Kyle and he’s like, ‘Dude, it looks like he’s on overtake.’ We’re like, ah, no, couldn’t be that.

“It was that.”

Herta hasn’t read through the rulebook because the rules regarding push to pass are mentioned in every drivers’ briefing.

Also skeptical of Newgarden’s explanation is Pato O’Ward. The Mexican racer has years of experience to draw upon for knowing how push to pass is supposed to work and actually found out he was the new St. Petersburg winner while still in bed at his parents’ house.

“I don’t read the rulebook, and even by doing that I know the rules,” O’Ward said. “It’s the team’s job to make sure the driver is prepared in these situations and up until now it’s very clear that those are the rules and those have been the rules for many years.

“You can’t buy those excuses because there’s so much data now, there is so much data, these engineers go into so much detail.”

The results change came over six weeks after the checkered flag waved at St. Petersburg.

“I would just say that I was very surprised, I really was,” O’Ward said. “And I think I’m one of the ones on the not buying boat because that just doesn’t happen accidentally and there’s so many ways to see it that it’s just not what has been said I would say.”

O’Ward crossed the finish line in St. Petersburg almost eight seconds behind Newgarden. After the double disqualification of Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, O’Ward was now the new winner ahead of Team Penske’s Will Power and Herta.

Power was not disqualified because he did not use push to pass outside of the rules unlike Newgarden and McLaughlin.

About the author

Christopher DeHarde has covered IndyCar racing and the Road to Indy for various outlets since 2014. In addition to open wheel racing, DeHarde has also covered IMSA and various short track racing events around Indiana. Originally from New Orleans, DeHarde moved to the Indianapolis area in 2017 to further pursue a career as a motorsports writer.

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ransom

this is abhorrent behavior from a team, especially when the team principal owns the series. “i thought there was a rule change” is entirely horseshit. dude knew when he pressed the button it shouldn’t have done a goddamn thing, and so did his teammate. they wouldn’t have pushed it if they didn’t know. this isn’t an online lobby full of numbnuts who have skipped the tutorial, this is professional racing. i was hoping to find an alternate series to watch since f1 is back into the same rut again, but indycar is now permanently off the list of things i’d consider. f*in cheaters.

Jeremy

Agree, it is horseshit. And it’s a damn shame from an organization that 1) has all the resources and already is a threat to win every week, 2) should know better, and 3) has the most to lose in a situation like this due to Roger’s role in the series.

All that is bad enough, but the worst part is your next to last line – I wonder how many others feel the same way and will quit watching? Damn shame, because Indycar has been coming around and putting out some great racing the last few years.

Ron

Let’s hear Roger get out in front of this story and explain how the entire Penske team came to this “misunderstanding” of the rules. I’m sure the Captain can justify this in a way we will all understand and believe.

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