Report: IndyCar grid penalties for unapproved engine swaps gone

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NBCSN IndyCar reporter Jon Beekhuis has said that the grid penalties for unapproved engine changes in the Verizon IndyCar Series will no longer be in effect.

Instead, according to Beekhuis, unapproved engine changes will result in a points penalty for the Manufacturer’s Championship, which is contested between engine suppliers Chevrolet and Honda.

Beekhuis revealed the news during tonight’s edition of the “Trackside” radio program on Indianapolis’ 1070 The Fan, which is hosted by fellow NBCSN reporter Kevin Lee and Indianapolis Star writer Curt Cavin.

However, Beekhuis also mentioned a caveat to that rule.

“If, as a team, you show negligence to the engine – let’s say you put the wrong radiator shutters or something on or you blow it up [on purpose], they will put you at the back of the field,” Beekhuis told Lee today at Barber Motorsports Park.

“I think they’ve written that in – remember [in] the old days, people used to blow up engines so you’d get new ones. So if there’s any sort of team negligence, you’ll go to the back.

“But if you don’t make your 2,500-mile [engine minimum] – and that’s another rule change – if you don’t make 2,500 miles, the penalty is going to be on the manufacturer and not on your grid spot, so that’s a huge change.”

Previously, teams had five fresh engines at their disposal and a change-out threshold of 2,000 miles on each powerplant. Now, teams have four engines allowed for the season along with the aforementioned new threshold of 2,500 miles.

As for how Chevy and Honda feel about it, Beekhuis believes that while they want the driver’s championship first and foremost, the manufacturer’s title is still important considering how much development they’ve put into their respective engines.

“I don’t think they’re going to be throwing engines at it and say, ‘Aw, forget about the manufacturer’s championship,'” he said. “I think that with the kind of money they’re spending, it’s still really important to them.

“…There’s been a ton of money spent and I don’t think you want to throw away manufacturer points. You want to try and cash in. If you’re Chevrolet or you’re Honda, you want to say, ‘Hey, we won the driver’s championship and we won the manufacturer’s [championship] and we did it on only four engines.’ That would be impressive.”

Josef Newgarden wins for 3rd time in 4 years in rain-shortened Honda Indy GP of Alabama

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Given how well he’s done there, they may want to consider renaming Barber Motorsports Park to Newgarden Motorsports Park.

Josef Newgarden won for the second straight year and third time in the last four races at BMP to capture Monday’s rain-delayed Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

“I like it here,” Newgarden told NBCSN. “We could do the whole series at Barber. That’d be great.”

Newgarden won his ninth career IndyCar race on what he considers his home track, just three hours from his home north of Nashville, Tennessee.

Monday’s race on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn permanent road course was a timed event of 75 minutes after Sunday’s rain-postponement after 22 laps of the scheduled 90 laps.

As it turned out, both ends of Sunday’s start and Monday’s finish, a total of 82 laps were contested.

Rain once again became an issue in about the last 15 minutes of Monday’s rescheduled event but Newgarden – who started from the pole – made a stop for rain tires with 14 minutes left and that proved to be the winning strategy. He also regains the lead in the IndyCar point standings from Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi.

“The rain made it more eventful than I would have liked,” Newgarden told NBCSN. “We had good fuel mileage and good reliability, that’s what we needed to win this race.

“It seemed like smooth sailing for the most part — we had no yellows, which we were hoping for no yellows — and then the rain crept in. … Fortunately, we had a big gap, which helped us win the race, just building that gap over the beginning part. … It’s a great day for Team Penske.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second, followed by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens, with Sebastien Bourdais finishing fifth.

“Solid weekend for us,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 in qualifying and two cars in the top 5 in the race. Pretty proud of these boys. It’s good to get a couple Hondas up there. Maybe not the top steps in the podium, but we took the rest of it.”

Bourdais had hoped to finish the race on slicks and win. But he was forced to pit with 7:15 left after his car became too difficult to control in heavy rain, swapping to rain tires.

Unfortunately, pitting essentially cost Bourdais the win.

“We were in the catbird’s seat for second and were hoping that he’d get some good times on the drives in the wet, but the wet just kept coming and we had to bring him in,” team owner Dale Coyne said.

Added Bourdais, “We’re in it to win it, did everything we could, it was seemingly going to be good enough. … I think we had beaten (Newgarden). Yet, the sky opened and that was it.”

Scott Dixon finished sixth, followed by Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud and Marco Andretti.

Eleventh through 20th were Rossi, Matheus Leist, Zach Veach, Jordan King, Spencer Pigot, Rene Binder, Gabby Chaves, Tony Kanaan, Zach Claman De Melo and Ed Jones.

Rounding out the final three finishing positions were Will Power, Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball.

INCIDENTS:

* Spencer Pigot and rookie Zach Claman De Melo got into a tangle early on, but both were able to get going and damage appeared minimal.

* With 8:30 left, Rossi spun into the Turn 5 gravel but was able to get going.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* Will Power’s team was able to get his damaged car repaired and he was back on-track roughly 10 minutes into Monday’s action.

* Scott Dixon lost much of the electronics on his car with about 28 minutes left. He essentially had to handle things old school, going by feel. He wound up being penalized for speeding on pit road when his dashboard went out.

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