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Report: IndyCar grid penalties for unapproved engine swaps gone

Mar 18, 2014, 11:03 PM EDT

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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.”

  1. worknman24hours - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:30 AM

    I wish someone would start at the back every race and win the race with a new engine every race just to pxxx off the whole world.

    “We won the Indycar World Championship and we started at the back every race.”

  2. manik56 - Mar 19, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    Yeah, the engine manufacturers get more exposure winning the Engine Builders championship than they do winning the driver’s championship or the Indy 500. Basically there are now no engine change penalties. The F1 model for engine change rules in recent years is perfectly reasonable. Why wasn’t it copied?

  3. testover6370 - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    This is a very good rule change. Since the manufacturer makes the call on the engine, they should take the hit. At Long Beach in 2012 Chevy decided to replace all their engines, but it was the teams, who didn’t have control over that decision, who were punished. This change has a caveat to punish the team if they do force the issue. It puts the consequences on those who are responsible. The old grid penalties were overly harsh and could dramatically shake up the starting order from the qualifying results.

  4. bigdcart - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    I don’t quite understand the consequences of the rule change. Doesn’t this just give the Big 3 teams an even bigger advantage?

    • midtec2005 - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      Not if the manufacturer wants to win the manufacturer championship.

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