Team Penske hasn't had the best of luck at the Texas Motor Speedway tech inspection lane this year, incurring a penalty for its NASCAR teams in April and another this weekend following Helio Castroneves' victory in the Firestone 550 at the Speedway on Saturday.
The Penske Racing driver and team was penalized $35,000 and docked 15 entrant points for not complying with Rule 126.96.36.199 of the 2013 IndyCar rulebook - an underwing violation. Castroneves was not docked driver championship points and will maintain his 22-point advantage heading into this weekend's event at the Milwaukee Mile.
Castroneves dominated the race on Saturday, at one point establishing an 18-second lead in the middle stages of the race. Despite the extreme difference in speed, team president Tim Cindric insists that the infraction did not make a noticeable difference for the car on race day.
"Obviously we are very disappointed that the No. 3 car did not pass post-race inspection after Saturday's race at Texas," Cindric said in a news release. "The rule in question (188.8.131.52) states that the diffuser exit must measure 7.600'. After the race, ours was 7.575' because we neglected to tighten the braces that position the rear of the diffuser following pre-race inspection.
"The way Helio's car raced did not provide any advantage as a lower diffuser height actually adds drag and reduces downforce. To ensure this is the case, we ran this configuration in the wind tunnel on Monday morning and found that the No. 3 car actually raced with three pounds less downforce and one pound more drag than what it would have had if we tightened the underwing braces properly."
But as Team Penske has discovered all year, in both NASCAR and IndyCar, the rule is the rule. The team may appeal the penalty if it so desires.