Graham Rahal has been demoted ten places on the Watkins Glen grid after his Newman/Haas/Lanigan car failed a post-qualifying technical inspection for being underweight.
The American had reached the Fast Six session in qualifying and appeared to have secured fifth on the grid, but has now been put back to 15th.
The unhappy Rahal questioned the validity of the penalty and maintained that he had gone into qualifying with a fully legal car.
"It's frustrating," he said. "There is some inconsistency because the car was overweight by five pounds when we went to tech before and now we're underweight and we didn't change anything."
Rahal's penalty means that the two NHLR cars will start 15th and 17th, as his team-mate Robert Doornbos' session had already been spoiled by a suspension problem in part one of qualifying.
The revised grid sees championship leader Dario Franchitti move up to fifth despite his late crash in qualifying, with Mike Conway's new career best becoming sixth rather than seventh. The Dreyer & Reinbold rookie had shrugged off an accident at the start of practice to take a praiseworthy seventh on the grid before Rahal's penalty elevated him onto row three.