Formula 1

‘I’m not a liar’: Emotional Josef Newgarden ‘failed team miserably’; apologizes for ’embarrassing’ IndyCar

'I'm not a liar': Emotional Josef Newgarden 'failed team miserably'; apologizes for 'embarrassing' IndyCar

In a highly emotional news conference, Josef Newgarden both accepted full blame for actions that led to his IndyCar victory in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg being disqualified while also steadfastly defending his commitment to being truthful.

"It’s really important to look at the facts of what happened," Newgarden said as his voice quavered numerous times in the Barber Motorsports Park media center Friday morning ahead of NTT IndyCar Series practice (3:40 p.m. ET, Peacock). "The facts are extremely clear. There’s no doubt we were in breach of the rules at St. Pete. I used push to pass at an unauthorized time on two different restarts.

"Those are the rules and we did not adhere to them. What's really important about that, too, is there’s only one person sitting in the car. It’s just me. It’s my responsibility to know the rules and regulations at all points and make sure I get that right with that regard, I failed my team miserably. I failed completely to get that right. You can’t make a mistake like that at this level in that situation. There’s no room for it. I don’t want to hide from that. It’s an embarrassing situation to have to go through. It’s demoralizing in a lot of ways. There’s nothing I can say that changes the fact of what happened. It’s pretty clear. I think the facts are most important that’s what really matters. I also think the truth is really important. There can be space for both those things."

nbc_indy_stpetepostrace_240311.jpg

IndyCar disqualifies Josef Newgarden for violating push to pass at St. Pete; Pato O’Ward named winner

Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin also disqualified; Will Power docked 10 points.

  • Nate Ryan,

Newgarden's March 10 victory in the season opener was nullified Wednesday (with Pato O'Ward declared the new winner) after IndyCar determined that Newgarden used push to pass illegally. Under the rules, IndyCar drivers are restricted from using what's called "the overtake button" (which provides a boost of 50-60 horsepower) at the start of the race and on restart laps.

Teammate Scott McLaughlin also was disqualified for using the push to pass button on a restart at St. Pete. Penske driver Will Power was docked 10 points for having access to the overtake but not using it.

IndyCar inadvertently discovered the infraction during last Sunday's warmup for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach when the push to pass system stopped working but remained active on the Penske cars.

Team Penske has maintained since the penalty was announced Wednesday that their trio of drivers had access to push to pass because of an honest mistake and oversight. Team president Tim Cindric told the Indy Star that it was a coding error.

Newgarden confirmed he "purposely was hitting the button. The tough part is the intent. I don't think that intent matters at this point. The facts are, when are you allowed to use push to pass? The rules state you're not allowed to use it until the alt start/finish line, and I didn't. It's very easy to tell when you're using the button. I know when I pushed the button. It's not anything I would try to hide behind. It's also very obvious when you're using the button. It comes up on my dash, there's onboard cameras, people see the telemetry updates.

"It's nothing you're trying to hide from. I'm not trying to hide from it. I know exactly when I pushed the button. I feel it every time. It's a very obvious thing."

Newgarden fought off tears numerous times in his 30-minute media availability, adding he had awoken at 3 a.m. because he was so anxious about telling his side of the story.

When asked by NBCSports.com freelance writer Bruce Martin how this would affect him entering the 108th Indy 500 next month as the defending winner, Newgarden had to pause to compose himself. "Well, I'm still happy," he said "Look, I got the best job in the world (tearing up). I'm excited. I'm still excited. I'm excited for this weekend. It should be good.

The two-time IndyCar champion also deeply apologized "to fans, teammates, partners, anybody I’ve raced against in our community. I’ve worked very hard in my career to maintain those standards, and I’ve fallen very short of that in this respect."

Newgarden said he didn't want the win (which would have been the 30th of his career) on his resume. He added that he was "interrogated" by team owner Roger Penske, who "didn’t take it well.”

But the Team Penske star also defended his honor from those who said he pushed the overtake button knowingly in violation of the rules.

nbc_indyowardintv_220501.jpg

IndyCar at Barber Motorsports Park: How to watch on NBC, start times, schedules, streaming

After an eventful week and a jumble in the championship standings, the NTT IndyCar Series will hold its first road course points race of the season.

  • Nate Ryan,

  • Nate Ryan,

"The tricky thing about this whole situation is I didn't know I did anything wrong until Monday after Long Beach," Newgarden said as his voice cracked again with emotion. "It's the first time I heard that I broke rules. I knew getting to this part was going to be difficult for me.

"You guys can call me every name in the book, you can call me incompetent, call me an idiot, call me an asshole, call me stupid, whatever you want to call me.

"But I'm not a liar."

THIS STORY WILL BE UPDATED

Source

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button