Roger Penske’s team is batting the worst 2-for-2 possible this year. Penske Racing was penalized after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in April, and now it faces further penalties after the IZOD IndyCar Series race at the same facility.
INDYCAR announced Tuesday that Helio Castroneves’ race-winning No. 3 AAA Chevy had violated Rule 126.96.36.199 of the 2013 IndyCar rulebook – an underwing violation.
For the infraction, the team was fined $35,000 and docked 15 entrant points, but Castroneves’ driver points were not impacted. Penske can appeal the penalty if he desires.
Justin Wilson’s team was penalized after he had won last year’s Texas race, as well. The team was fined $7,500 and docked five entrant points for not complying with the sidepod top deck aerodynamic element of Rule 188.8.131.52 of last year’s rulebook.
UPDATE, 5:15 p.m. ET: Penske Racing president Tim Cindric has issued the following statement regarding the penalty:
“Obviously we are very disappointed that the No. 3 car did not pass post-race inspection after Saturday’s race at Texas. The rule in question (184.108.40.206) states that the diffuser exit must measure 7.600.” After the race, ours was 7.575″ because we neglected to tighten the braces that position the rear of the diffuser following pre-race inspection.
The way Helio’s car raced did not provide any advantage as a lower diffuser height actually adds drag and reduces downforce. To ensure this is the case, we ran this configuration in the wind tunnel on Monday morning and found that the No. 3 car actually raced with three pounds less downforce and one pound more drag than what it would have had if we tightened the underwing braces properly.”
Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.
Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.
“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”