Pato O’Ward has been declared the winner of IndyCar’s season-opening race after two of the three Penske drivers were disqualified.

Josef Newgarden won the first race of the championship at the St Petersburg street circuit but has been disqualified from the results along with team mate Scott McLaughlin. Will Power has kept his result but has been docked ten points by IndyCar.

The Penske team were deemed to have illegally manipulated how their cars’ Push-to-Pass system operated, which allowed them to make use of the boost at the race start and at restarts – where it is forbidden until drivers reach a certain point – without the infringement being detected.

IndyCar determined both race winner Newgarden and McLaughlin had “gained a competitive advantage” from using Push-to-Pass at restarts in violation of the regulations, while Power had not. Both Newgarden and McLaughlin have been retroactively disqualified from the final classification of the race as a result. Penske has been fined $25,000 per car and will lose any prize money gained over the event.

McLaren driver Pato O’Ward, who originally finished second, is therefore promoted to first place. It is the team’s first win since 2022.

Power, who finished fourth in the original classification, has been promoted to second place as a result but has lost 10 of the 40 points he would have received. Newgarden and McLaughlin’s disqualifications also promotes Colton Herta onto the podium in third.

IndyCar explained that officials had detected a possible violation by the Penske cars during Sunday’s warm-up session ahead of the Grand Prix of Long Beach last weekend. IndyCar have not taken any action against Penske over that race.

IndyCar president Jaye Frye said that action would be taken to ensure no teams would be able to subvert the Push-to-Pass rules in this way in future.

“The integrity of the IndyCar Series championship is critical to everything we do,” Frye said.

“While the violation went undetected at St Petersburg, IndyCar discovered the manipulation during Sunday’s warm-up in Long Beach and immediately addressed it ensuring all cars were compliant for the 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.”

Penske team president Tim Cindric insisted that the violation was down to a software error carried over following the team testing the series’ upcoming hybrid power units but said Penske accepted the penalties.

“Unfortunately, the Push-to-Pass software was not removed as it should have been, following recently completed hybrid testing,” Cindric said.

“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 number two car driven by Josef Newgarden and the number three car driven by Scott McLaughlin both deployed Push-to-Pass on a restart, which violated IndyCar rules.”

The disqualification sees Newgarden lose his place at the top of the championship standings, falling to 11th and promoting Long Beach winner Scott Dixon to first place. Herta is now second, two points behind Dixon, with Alex Palou promoted to third.

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