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“It’s not ideal” - Newgarden, Power on Penske suspensions

Written by Archie O’Reilly

Team Penske duo Josef Newgarden and Will Power have reacted to having two senior figures on each of their cars handed two-race suspensions amid the recent saga relating to the illegal usage of push-to-pass in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Newgarden, who was disqualified as winner of the season-opening event for gaining an unlawful advantage, is missing strategist Tim Cindric - also team president - and race engineer Luke Mason for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and his Indianapolis 500 defence. 

“I was surprised,” Newgarden said. “But this isn’t my team, it’s Roger’s team. Everybody has heard from Roger at this point, what we’ve done. All I can say is I’m excited to be here. I’m so happy to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’m not saying that disingenuously. It’s a little different than what it looked like last year but not that different.

“We’re here as a team, and we’re ready to go.”

Power did not commit any wrongdoing in the scandal having not pressed push-to-pass illegally on any race restart in St. Pete but has also lost two key figures from his team. The driver of the No.12 Chevy is without strategist Ron Ruzewski and his data engineer Robbie Atkinson for the Month of May.

Power was in particular shocked by the decisions given his lack of any wrongdoing. But with strategist Ruzewski also managing director of Penske’s NTT IndyCar Series programme, it was decided that he and Cindric had to take responsibility as the operation’s leaders. 

“That’s the call that Roger [Penske] made and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Power said. “It is what it is.”

The ban for Ruzewski is ultimately for the managing director element of his role, similarly for Atkinson as the programme’s lead data engineer. That is why Scott McLaughlin, who was also disqualified from a third-place St. Pete finish after one brief illegal use of push-to-pass, which he says was accidental, is not missing anybody from his stand.

Power has had Ruzewski replaced by his race engineer David Faustino, who is taking on the role of strategist on top of his existing job for at least the Indy GP weekend with confirmation yet to come for the Indy 500. Atkinson has been replaced by another of the team’s data engineers Paulo Trentini Filho.

“It’s not ideal losing someone off your stand,” Power said. “Losing two people is definitely not ideal. We were better off with them. But I sat down with Dave and we just said we’re going to do absolutely the best we can with what we’ve got. We’ve got very good people on the team. It is what it is. That’s the way it is and we will do our absolute best to make the most of it.”

Power has the benefit of having run tests with Faustino on the radio. But he has admitted the dynamic will be “different” with him also calling strategy on top of his existing duty.

“He’s not used to counting me down to the box or sending me, so there will be a few things that we have to really practice as much as we can,” Power said. “I think warmup is the only time we get to do that. But we’ve raced so long together and I’ve been at it so long, I can almost do strategy from the car.

“And he’s the one that basically does the strategy anyway and Ron sort of calls the races. Not a massive change. It will suck not having Ron. I’ve really got used to him. He’s very calming and good on the radio. That’s a pity but that’s the way it is.”

On Newgarden’s side, Cindric has been replaced by the team’s special projects manager John Bouslog. Nicknamed ‘Myron’, Bouslog was strategist for McLaughlin in his rookie IndyCar season in 2021, has recently been general manager of Penske’s IMSA programme and has been a part of the majority of the team’s Indy 500 successes. 

“We’ve got an amazing team, as everybody knows,” Newgarden said. “We’ve got a lot of depth. For us, we pride ourselves in it’s never one person. It’s great to plug in some of these other guys that I’ve known for a long time, ever since joining the team.”

A lead race engineer of the team’s Porsche sportscar programme, Raul Prados has stepped in as Newgarden’s race engineer to operate alongside acting strategist Bouslog.

“It’s been great to work with Raul,” Newgarden said after Friday’s condensed day of double practice then qualifying action on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) road course. “He’s a great engineer. I’ve worked with him a lot in the past. Really enjoy him. 

“Myron did a great job calling today. It was a little different, just a new voice in my head that I haven’t had in a little while. But they did a great job and it’s awesome to be here at the Speedway. I love this place. Puts a smile on my face every time I drive through the gates. It’s going to be a good month for us hopefully.”

Newgarden believes that Bouslog’s experience of Indy 500 success will “definitely” have a positive impact across the Month of May.

“I didn’t realise Myron has been here 38 years,” he said. “He knows what he’s doing.”

Newgarden said Bouslog is “really up to speed” already and knows the programme very well. The pair have conversed about what he is used to hearing on the radio and what he does not like as much. But to his encouragement, Bouslog has not really had to change the way he works much at all..


“It was like: ‘Just be John,’” Newgarden said. “We don’t have to be identical to what I’ve had in the past, but here’s our operating procedure. We already had a plan laid out for the most part. We’ve been working on it for a couple weeks now. It was really just business as usual in a lot of ways. We’re not doing a lot outside of the norm.”

Newgarden did say it was a “different cadence” to what he had been used to “in the last seven years” but that generally not much changed. And for both himself and Power, that was reflected by their qualifying performances on Friday for the only event on the IMS road course this season, rounding out the session by locking out the second row.

“It felt like business as usual,” Newgarden added. “We’ve got pretty much our whole team here and we’ve got a pretty deep group. Everyone is really close together. I know everybody - I wouldn’t mind plugging into any one of these cars that we have at Team Penske. They’re great teams. Everybody is solid… It was just a different voice.”

The month has started off well for both Power and Newgarden by qualifying third and fourth respectively. McLaughlin - the only Penske driver not to lose any personnel through the suspensions handed out by Roger Penske - failed to make the Fast 12 and will start in 13th place.

“I felt like we had a really good car,” Newgarden said. “The team did a great job. I think we have something to fight with, which is great for the whole team.”

Newgarden did admit Power had been “the benchmark” during the weekend. But having topped both of his first two rounds of qualifying, IndyCar’s best-ever qualifier had a late slide on his final lap that meant he had to settle for a third-place start. 

Alex Palou and Christian Lundgaard edged Power to a third successive front row start. But three consecutive top-three qualifying finishes marks a significant upturn on only a single Fast Six appearance throughout Power’s 12-race road and street course campaign in 2023.

“Keep doing what I’m doing now,” he said on what he needs to do to notch his first win since the sole victory in his second championship-winning season in 2022. “I’m qualifying at the front, running at the front - definitely had a shot at the win at Barber, had a shot at the win at Long Beach but a yellow fell at the absolutely worst time. 

“We’re there. It’ll come if you keep knocking on the door. Just going to keep doing what I’m doing. Very motivated to win a race.”


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