The IZOD IndyCar Series is to suspend the serving of any starting grid penalties incurred by teams for unscheduled engine penalties until after the running of the 96th Indianapolis 500 race on May 27.
The suspension comes into effect immediately following this weekend's Sao Paulo Indy 300 race in Brazil, and will mean that any team that needs to make an engine change between then and the start of the Indianapolis 500 race will not serve the usual mandatory ten-place penalty in the May race.
The period covers the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test on May 7 at Texas Motor Speedway, rookie and team testing, and on-track activity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway up to and including Bump Day (the final day of qualifying) on May 20.
"We do not intend to apply any penalties that will disrupt the Indy 500 starting field from their qualifying positions," said IndyCar's vice president of technology Will Phillips.
However, teams will still have to serve any penalties incurred during this time at the following race at Detroit Belle Isle on June 3.
"We're not saying there will not be any penalties; the penalties just won't be served at Indianapolis," Phillips confirmed. "They'll carry that penalty forward to the next event. Likewise, if someone racks up two penalties, they will go forward to the next two events."
The move is to ensure that the prestigious Indy 500 isn't affected by the same mass grid penalty that hit the recent street race at Long Beach, after Chevrolet instructed all of its teams to change engines before the race.
As a result of the penalties, over half the grid ended up not starting in the position in which they had qualified, and IndyCar is concerned about the fan reaction if the same thing were to happen at the series' flagship annual event.
Under already-announced plans for the Indy 500, all teams will receive a fresh engine from their supplier for the 500 mile race which is expected to be installed ahead of final practice (also known as Carb Day) before race day.