Newgarden to take Portland grid penalty

NTT IndyCar Series title contender Joseph Newgarden will be penalized six after qualifying at the Portland Grand Prix on Saturday.

Currently second in the championship standings, three points behind Team Penske teammate Will Power, Newgarden’s second place will be moved back with a new fifth 2.2-litre twin-turbo V6. Under IndyCar rules, four engines are allowed this season, which together require 10,000 miles of driving; any installation of more than a fourth motor is considered unapproved and subject to grid penalties. RACER understands that the need for an engine change in Newgarden was due to an engine issue in Toronto that caused the fourth engine to reach its mileage limit earlier than expected after entering car #2.

Newgarden’s performance in Portland should bring some consolation to the two-time IndyCar champion. He came back in 2018 with a 2nd place finish in the series and finished 13th and improved 8 places in 2019 to finish 5th, last year he recovered from 18th and finished at the checkered flag Sprint forward to get fifth place. While passing the ball at Portland International Speedway is no mean feat, Newgarden has shown the ability to turn an unfavorable starting position into a solid finish.

On a related note, Honda Performance Development, which has three Chip Ganassi Racing drivers in the title race alongside Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou, confirmed to RACER that it has “no changes this week” in its plans and should therefore be avoided in Portland.

It’s unclear if there are plans to switch engines for any other title contenders heading into the Monterrey season finale. Power (P1), Scott McLaughlin (P6) and Pato O’Ward (P7) from the Chevrolet camp are on their fourth engine. At Honda, Dixon (P3), Ericsson (P4) and Palou (P5) are also using their fourth engine.

High-mileage engines have historically had the highest chance of failure, leading manufacturers to sometimes call for engine replacements, knowing that this would trigger grid penalties as the final rounds of the season approach to ensure their contenders have the best chance to finish those games.

AJ Foyt Racing’s Dalton Kellett will also receive a 6-point penalty for violating the same unapproved engine replacement policy.

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