Back to normal at Detroit for Cindric and Team Penske

With the end of May comes the end of Team Penske’s suspensions for president Tim Cindric, managing director Ron Ruzewski, Josef Newgarden’s race engineer Luke Mason, and Will Power’s assistant engineer Robbie Atkinson.

In their physical absence from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Cindric was replaced as race strategist on Newgarden’s Indy 500-winning No. 2 Chevy by team veteran and leader of the Porsche Penske Motorsport IMSA program Jonathan Diuguid, and on the technical side, PPM Porsche 963 race engineer Raul Prados helped to steer Newgarden to victory lane.

With IMSA sharing the Detroit Grand Prix weekend with IndyCar, Diuguid and Prados have gone back to their normal posts within the team, and as Cindric shares, getting back to work on the IndyCar side is a welcome return to normalcy following a bumpy six-week stretch.


“I’ve had IMSA racing to do and I’ve got other series I get to worry about, too,” the California-born, Indianapolis-bred Cindric told RACER of his time spent away from the Speedway. “Not being at Indy was odd. Obviously, it’s where I grew up, and independent of everything else, that that was odd, but you know, the race fan in me actually got to watch the race.

“When you’re on the [pit] stand, you’re so into what you’re doing and what’s going on that you don’t really have a chance to watch the Indy 500. So if there was a positive, that was cool. And then obviously, being able to see this group stepping up and succeed in the way they did was great to watch all month. So for me, I’m back at the racetrack and ready to go.”

Having served their in-house penalties applied by team owner Roger Penske for the push-to-pass scandal that rocked the series coming out of Long Beach and into Barber Motorsports Park, Cindric says the chemistry and culture within the IndyCar team he’s come back to is strong and stable.

“It could have gone could have gone two different ways, right?” he noted. “And from Barber onwards, the team has focused on the job at hand. This was something that can either tear us up or keep us together. And my approach has been, do everything we can to keep it to get together and put whatever I can on my shoulders and move on.”

Newgarden and the No. 2 team continued to flourish at Indy with Jonathan Diuguid at the helm. Motorsport Images

The choice of Diuguid to quarterback Newgarden’s No. 2 car at Indy and to assign Prados as the offensive coordinator was a smart one by Cindric. The pair, both former IndyCar race engineers, had done well at the 500 years ago, but with Diuguid’s elevation to run the massive factory Porsche IMSA GTP/WEC Hypercar program, and the big responsibility carried by Prados as a race engineer for the effort that won January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, the two Speedway substitutes returned to Indy as wiser figures who were ready to deliver.

“It’s good point; obviously, Jonathan, he’s solid,” Cindric said. “He’s been with us since college, really. And, you know, to see those guys have this success is rewarding. When I came to this team, I was focused on the goals that I hadn’t achieved within the sport. I watched my father (legendary IndyCar engine builder Carl Cindric) try and achieve a lot of things in this sport that never happened. Where I find satisfaction, whether it’s drivers or crew members, is they come to this team with certain expectations.

“I was looking at it as our responsibility to give them the chance to put themselves in a position to succeed and realize their dreams.”

For Prados, the chance to do something truly special by winning the Rolex 24, Indy 500, and in a few weeks, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the same year as a race engineer is now possible.

“You see somebody like Raul come in and have a chance to go win the Rolex 24 as a race engineer, and then go the Indy 500 and win that as a race engineer, especially under the circumstances, and maybe Le Mans, it’s really cool to see,” Cindric said. “There aren’t too many people that have accomplished that.

“And JD having to shoulder that and also, you know, having him be sure that the team was ready for Laguna (Seca IMSA earlier in May). I’ve worked with him quite a bit obviously on the stand because he does one of the cars typically in IMSA and I do the other car, so you’re obviously working together very closely — more so than other series because it’s such a team sport.

“He and I understand how each other think and how each other operates. So it was natural for us to be able to hand that off to him at Indy. And with Raul, we’ve already put (adding a Le Mans overall win) on his plate. We’ve already told him, ‘Don’t stop now!’”

Story originally appeared on Racer