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DATE News (chronologically)
06/09/12
IRL
IndyCar "Double" Engine Penalties  Know that, in IndyCar, your sin doth follow you.

As most know, if you have an engine change before an engine "times out" (hasn't gone the minimum number of 1850 miles), you get a 10-spot penalty in the next race.

There are, however, some twists and turns. For starters, there are rules for Indy. One of those rules says (basically) that you can change a motor that you used for practice and qualification before the Indy 500, even if you haven't timed out. However, if the motor hasn't "timed out" then you need to put that motor back into the car when the Indy 500 practice motor "times out" or blows up.

Are you with me so far? Dang, we need a Viso diagram here I think.

Most of the teams ran their Indy 500 motor for Carb Day, the 500, Detroit, and the Milwaukee test, and therefore were running a new motor this weekend.

So this weekend, Conway and Newgarden "have problems" in Honda-speak. Those are moving back to their Indy practice motor to fulfill the motor rule. Since this is an "unapproved" change they got a 10-spot penalty for the Texas race.

Should they "go forward" with a new motor, they'd get a 10-spot penalty for this race, and a 10-spot penalty for the next race in Milwaukee, even though they'd only have one motor change. And yes, it is conceivable that a team could be kept in perpetual 10-spot penalties. And yeah, I joked about purgatory in the afterlife, or perhaps a Lotus contract next year. I'm equally sure that, in a championship season-ending race, some might elect to take a new motor and live with a ten-position penalty in the first race of the next year.

So, when you read in some other high-profile publications about "going back" in motor changes, keep in mind that there are legal reasons why the teams went back. I don't think that this got mentioned by other press outlets.

I'd like to thank the IndyCar officials, as well as the Honda people, who helped with this article, and then explained baseball's infield fly rule to me.

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-- Tim Wohlford, reporting from TEXAS!!
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