Race Weekend Central

Upon Further Review: Penske-Speak Strikes Again

Sometimes being too caught up in jargon in trying to explain yourself can be a bit of a detriment in making oneself clear when explaining a point.

Kind of like that last sentence, right? Well, don’t worry, that won’t happen again. In the case of Team Penske, that might be a different story.

Two weeks after the team was stripped of its win in St. Petersburg, there’s now a show of self-awareness, at least some, coming from the Captain’s side of the table.

The Punishment

Team Penske announced this week that four senior members of the organization have been suspended for the NTT IndyCar Series’ Month of May at Indianapolis as a result of an internal investigation following the double disqualification of Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin from the season-opening race at St. Petersburg.

See also
Team Penske Suspends Multiple Crew Members from Josef Newgarden's No. 2 Team

Newgarden’s side of the team faced half of the punishment as Team President Tim Cindric (who also doubles as Newgarden’s race strategist) was one of the four suspended, as was Newgarden’s race engineer Luke Mason. Managing Director Ron Ruzewski was also suspended as was senior data engineer Robbie Atkinson. Atkinson works on Will Power‘s car while Ruzewski also calls strategy for the No. 12 entry.

This is a bit unfair to Power, but Atkinson might have been the main party responsible for what happened, so that suspension makes sense.

Back to the suspension announcement itself, though.

“After a full and comprehensive analysis of the information, Team Penske has determined that there were significant failures in our processes and internal communications.”

The Merit

Team Penske has had an image through the years of perfection, hence the wording of the announcement. But sometimes being more direct is more effective than hiding behind an image.

And this is nothing against Penske’s communications staff. Far from it. The professionals that work in that department are doing what they have been instructed to do since their first day on the job and they are very good at what they do.

However, the tone of the release just reeks of soullessness and over-explanation that could be simplified by simply saying “The team achieved a significant technical advantage outside of the IndyCar rulebook and were penalized for the rules breach by INDYCAR. As such, the people responsible will be suspended.”

The suspensions themselves were the right move. There’s no denying that. The team might have had a bit more good will from the paddock had they announced that suspensions would be forthcoming the day that IndyCar announced the disqualifications.

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The Pit Straight: Lando Norris Has Arrived, Now What?

The disqualifications show that those responsible are taking accountability for their actions by not being involved in the biggest race of the IndyCar season on Memorial Day weekend. The punishment fits the crime committed. However, there must be transparency on how the crew members will be separated from communicating with the team during the race weekends.

Unless Team Penske decides to temporarily reassign the suspended individuals to the NASCAR program during the Darlington, All Star and Charlotte race weekends, then there’s no way that they’d have time to communicate with their coworkers in Indianapolis.

The practice broadcasts will address these suspensions at the start of each session, it’s a near-certainty at this point. This story isn’t going away yet, especially after Newgarden’s press conference at Barber Motorsports Park.

But maybe with the suspensions, the story can start to slide into the background as we focus on cars on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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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Shayne

They were caught cheating. If they’re that sorry, start suspending the drivers too. The sponsors wouldn’t be happy if that happened, so it won’t happen. So, the suspensions are a complete joke.

Bob

Based on the fact that one driver knew about it and took advantage of it, I agree that driver should be suspended. There are times when a team cheats and the driver has no idea, clearly not the case this time.

Bob

The main point fans should get is that this was not a simple accident as Team Penske is trying to say. Every Indy Car engineer knows it and Marshall Pruett did a great job of explaining what happened so fans should know it too. I believe as the leader Tim Cindric should have been fired, that to me would show how serious Penske took this issue.

TiminPayson

Then Tim could help Austin out of his closet.

Shayne

Let’s not forget, Roger owns the series.

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