Newgarden Pips O’Ward in Chevy-Dominated 500

Josef Newgarden became just the sixth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in two consecutive years on Sunday, edging Pato O’Ward in a scintillating race after a start delayed four hours by a midday rainstorm at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two-time IndyCar champion Newgarden drove his No. 2 Shell Team Penske Chevrolet Dallara to the victory by .3417 of a second over the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet of O’Ward, as they swapped the lead four times over the last eight laps.

O’Ward passed Newgarden on the outside just before the start-finish line as the white flag flew in the air for the final lap. O’Ward stayed out front in Turns 1 and 2 ahead and down the back straightaway, but Newgarden tucked in behind O’Ward’s car and made a daring pass outside of O’Ward in Turn 3 to take the lead for good with the crowd of 330,000 on their feet.

“There’s just no better way to win this race than that,” said Newgarden. “I’ve got to give it up to Pato, as well. He’s an incredibly clean driver. It takes two people to make that work.”

O’Ward has been damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t, and damned if he does again. He backed off his run into turn 1 on the final lap against winner Marcus Ericsson in 2022, shoved in and started a turn 3 crash in the closing laps of 2023, and found out this year that taking the lead on the main straight going into the final lap was too soon. But checking up and not following through with his run would likely have cost him the momentum needed to retake the lead back over the final two and a half miles anyway.

Pato O’Ward’s “damned if he does” choice from last year

“I am proud of the work we did today,” said the popular Mexican O’Ward. “We recovered. We went back, we went forward, we went back. Some people were just driving like maniacs. We had so many near race-enders.

“Just so close again, so close. I put that car through things I never thought it was going to be able to do. Sometimes I said ‘Ah, that’s it.’ Somehow, I came out the other side of the corner. It is just so painful when you put so much into it and then you are two corners short. This place, it owes me nothing. I would have much rather finished the race rather than compared last year, but it’s always a heartbreak when you are so close, especially when it’s not the first time. You just don’t know how many opportunities that you have. You just have to do the same thing again, keep on getting better and see if we fall on the right side next time.”

Pato O’Ward on the grid in 2023

“He’s a champion,” Newgarden said about O’Ward. “He’s one of the best competitors we have in this field. He’s a really nice guy. Every time I talk to Pato we have great conversations, and I think we have a lot of respect for each other.

“I’m appreciative for the way that he drives. He drove like a champion in this race and he’s just as deserving of a winner in my opinion. He definitely could have won this race. It’s tough to not win it. I can’t say anything to ease that for him. When you don’t win, it hurts. I’ve left here 11 times prior with a broken heart, so I know the feeling. Whether you’re close or you’re far, it’s a broken heart. I can’t ease that.

“But he’s a champion. I think he knows it. I definitely have a lot of respect for him.”

Josef Newgarden in the post-race presser

It wasn’t just the Chevy’s of Newgarden and O’Ward that showed well on the day, as the bow-tie brand gave Honda a thorough beating. The Chip Ganassi Racing Hondas of Scott Dixon and Alex Palou finished third and fifth respectively, but the only other Honda in the top 12 was the Andretti team car of Kyle Kirckwood. Three Hondas expired in action during the early stages of a race that saw Chevy’s—including Newgarden’s—sweeping the front row during qualifying.

Newgarden, who started third, became the first repeat winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” since Helio Castroneves won in 2001 and 2002 for Penske. Newgarden also earned the record-extending 20th Indy 500 victory Roger Penske, who’s first win was with the late Mark Donohue in 1972. Penske now not only owns the winning team, but also the Speedway and the IndyCar series.

Newgarden’s repeat victory delivered a $440,000 bonus from BorgWarner, the sponsor of the winner’s Borg-Warner Trophy. Newgarden earned $4.288 million from a total purse of $18,456,000.

Six-time IndyCar champion Dixon was followed by Alexander Rossi in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet and reigning series champion Alex Palou fifth in the No. 10 DHL Ganassi Honda. Just 1.5079 seconds separated the top five cars despite the last 46 laps running caution-free in a frantic finish.

Christian Rasmussen was the top-finishing rookie, 12th in the No. 33 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet. 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson finished 18th in the No. 17 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet in his first “500” start, hampered by a pit road speeding penalty.

Kyle Larson at speed

Still, Larson was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year for his performance during the Month of May. Larson, driving for Rick Hendrick, made his first attempt to complete “The Double,” by racing both the 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600. When rain-delayed the Indy start, Larson and his team made the decision to focus on the 500. Already set with a spot in the NASCAR “Playoffs” (how I hate that term used in racing), following through with his Indy commitment was a no-brainer. Larson earned a $50,000 bonus for being named Rookie of the Year, adding to a total take-home prize of $178,000.

“I would definitely love to be back next year,” said Larson. “I feel like I learned a lot throughout the race. I made a couple mistakes early there with the restart. Not sure what I wrong did there but somehow got myself into third. I felt like I did a really good job on the restarts and learned a lot. Definitely feel good about knowing what I would need different for the balance when I come back to help runs and stuff. Then obviously I smoked the left front or something on a green flag stop and killed our opportunity.

“Proud to finish but pretty upset at myself. Just could have executed a better race. Bummed at myself, but huge thank you to Arrow McLaren, Hendrick Motorsports, Hendrick Automotive Group, Rick Hendrick, Chevrolet, Valvoline, everybody that’s a part of this. We’ll go hop on the jet and see if I can get into the 600 somehow.”

His victory capped a Month of May in which Newgarden was without Penske President and strategist Tim Cindric and engineer Luke Mason. They were suspended by Team Penske for the two races this month at IMS after the team’s cars were found to have violated IndyCar Push-to-Pass rules in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Jonathan Diuguid and Raul Prados substituted for Cindric and Mason, respectively, this month.

“They can say whatever they want after this point; I don’t care anymore,” Newgarden said of critics—and there have been many—after the violations were discovered. “I’m just so proud of this team. They crushed it. Crushed it. Luke, Tim – they’re not here today, but they’re a huge part of this. I’m just so proud for everybody at Team Penske. That’s the way I wanted to win the thing, right there.”

After starting with a first lap, first corner crash initiated when Tom Blomqvist lost it down low, the race was slowed again by the self-destructing Honda of Marcus Armstrong. Katherine Legge and Felix Rosenqvist both faced similar fates on laps 22 and 55, respectively. Along with Linus Lundqvist crashing on lap 27, Ryan Hunter-Reay on 106, and Marco Andretti on 113 and you have a race with a lot of bathroom breaks during the first half.

Somewhere in there also was Colton Herta, who spun in the south end of the track. For some reason, Herta abandoned his car with only nose cone damage, only to rejoin the race many laps down after the slightly blemished car was brought to the garage on a roll-back.

The early yellows initiated different pit sequences, notably by local favorite Conor Daly and A.J. Foyt driver Sting Ray Robb. “Honestly, I’m super pumped,” said Daly, who advanced more spots than anyone esle from start to finish. “Biggest mover, love to see that. We knew we were faster than where we started and we proved it. We got up front thanks to great strategy from Dennis and the boys.

“I love running at the front of this race. I love running with the true professionals up there. The McLaughlins of the world, the Josefs of the world. If we just make one move in the pit lane right at the end, we’re in a better spot. We were lacking maybe just a little bit of speed but that was the first time we ran with that group all month. We weren’t really sure what to expect. I think for what we had, for the amount of time together in this car, we have to be super proud of that. Another top-10 finish and for me here, that’s super cool.”

It was surprising that Robb was able to capitalize on the pit strategy to lead a decent number of laps. “I don’t know what to say about the day. I think that was the most fun I’ve had in a race car today on an oval,” said Robb, mostly viewed as having his seat for bringing money to the table. “The team did such a good job on the stops. I went long on one but they kept it together. Great stops all day, great strategy. That last yellow, if it wasn’t for that I think we would have been fighting for the win. I’m so proud of these guys, I thought we were the car to beat out there. It feels so good. I’m so happy.”

The intensity increased in the mostly clean second half of the 200-lap race, with 32 lead changes in the last 70 laps alone. Rookie Kyffin Simpson was the last of the drivers on a different pit sequence to surrender the lead with their final stop, on Lap 184. That set the stage for a four-driver scramble for the win between Newgarden, O’Ward, Rossi and Dixon over the closing 15 laps.

Newgarden took the lead on Lap 193, with O’Ward climbing to second—setting the stage for a series of slingshot passes between the two drivers over the last seven laps. It was only the fourth time in Indianapolis 500 history that the race was decided by a last-lap pass. Newgarden also achieved that feat last year by passing Marcus Ericsson on Lap 200.

After switching from Ganassi to the Andretti team, Ericsson had a month he’d rather soon forget. From last row qualifying pressure to getting taken out by Blomqvist before completing a turn, it’s time for Ericsson to hit the reset button before Detroit this weekend.

This year’s 500 boasted an event-record 18 of the 33 starters leading at least one lap. NTT P1 Award winner Scott McLaughlin led the most laps, 64, before finishing sixth in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet. “I just gave it my all, all month,” said the former Australian V8 Supercars driver. “It’s just emotionally draining. Unfortunately, that’s my best run and I’m upset about it obviously. You’re a competitor. But Team Penske won and that’s the main thing. Congrats to Josef and his No. 2 team. Great for Shell, great for Pennzoil. This place just kicks your butt and you’ve got to come back stronger next year.”

A dramatic moment between veterans occurred on lap 107 when Scott Dixon got a good run on fellow one-time winner Will Power coming off of turn 2. Dixon’s momentum stalled when he got alongside Power, and both cars drifted a bit towards the inside. Coming in hot with his own run, Ryan Hunter-Reay positioned his car to pass inside of Dixon. But Dixon continued to move to the inside, blocking 2014 winner Hunter-Reay, who’s right front punted Dixon’s left rear. Hunter-Reay spun into a 360 in the infield grass and back onto the grass, masterfully continuing moving forward without further contact but out of the race.

“It was unfortunate to get taken out there in a pretty unnecessary move, that I think was a pretty dirty move,” said Hunter-Reay, who drives for the 500-only Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team. “Ultimately, Dixon, who we were running with, ran up front at the end so potentially we could have been there for the fight at the end. We were up against it, unfortunately got taken out. This team has done a fantastic job, a top-12. I honestly know what I need in this car coming back next year and hope we have the chance to do that.”

Eatmyink will have more photo coverage from the 500 later in the week.

Results Sunday of the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (3) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 200, Running
2. (8) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 200, Running
3. (21) Scott Dixon, Honda, 200, Running
4. (4) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 200, Running
5. (14) Alex Palou, Honda, 200, Running
6. (1) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 200, Running
7. (11) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 200, Running
8. (6) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 200, Running
9. (7) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 200, Running
10. (29) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 200, Running
11. (15) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 200, Running
12. (24) Christian Rasmussen, Chevrolet, 200, Running
13. (28) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 200, Running
14. (10) Takuma Sato, Honda, 200, Running
15. (33) Graham Rahal, Honda, 200, Running
16. (23) Sting Ray Robb, Chevrolet, 200, Running
17. (17) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 200, Running
18. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200, Running
19. (26) Romain Grosjean, Chevrolet, 200, Running
20. (20) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 200, Running
21. (18) Kyffin Simpson, Honda, 200, Running
22. (22) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 199, Running
23. (13) Colton Herta, Honda, 170, Contact
24. (2) Will Power, Chevrolet, 145, Contact
25. (19) Marco Andretti, Honda, 113, Contact
26. (12) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Chevrolet, 106, Contact
27. (9) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 55, Mechanical
28. (27) Linus Lundqvist, Honda, 27, Contact
29. (31) Katherine Legge, Honda, 22, Mechanical
30. (16) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 6, Mechanical
31. (25) Tom Blomqvist, Honda, 0, Contact
32. (30) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 0, Contact
33. (32) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 0, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 167.763 mph
Time of Race: 2:58:49.4079
Margin of victory: 0.3417 of a second
Cautions: 8 for 46 laps
Lead changes: 49 among 18 drivers

Lap Leaders:
McLaughlin, Scott 1 – 23, Robb, Sting Ray 24 – 26, Daly, Conor 27 – 31, Robb, Sting Ray 32, McLaughlin, Scott 33 – 34, O’Ward, Pato 35, Daly, Conor 36 – 42, McLaughlin, Scott 43 – 48, Rasmussen, Christian 49, McLaughlin, Scott 50 – 57, Daly, Conor 58 – 64, Robb, Sting Ray 65 – 76, McLaughlin, Scott 77 – 87, VeeKay, Rinus 88 – 91, Rahal, Graham 92, Lundgaard, Christian 93, VeeKay, Rinus 94 – 96, Lundgaard, Christian 97 – 99, Newgarden, Josef 100 – 112, McLaughlin, Scott 113 – 125, Newgarden, Josef 126 – 129, McLaughlin, Scott 130, Rossi, Alexander 131, Ferrucci, Santino 132, Dixon, Scott 133 – 134, O’Ward, Pato 135 – 136, Dixon, Scott 137 – 140, Daly, Conor 141 – 143, Robb, Sting Ray 144 – 150, Dixon, Scott 151 – 154, O’Ward, Pato 155, Rossi, Alexander 156 – 159, O’Ward, Pato 160, Rossi, Alexander 161 – 163, O’Ward, Pato 164, Rossi, Alexander 165, O’Ward, Pato 166 – 169, Dixon, Scott 170 – 171, Palou, Alex 172, VeeKay, Rinus 173, Kirkwood, Kyle 174 – 175, Ilott, Callum 176, Carpenter, Ed 177 – 179, Larson, Kyle 180 – 183, Simpson, Kyffin 184 – 186, Rossi, Alexander 187, Newgarden, Josef 188 – 190, Rossi, Alexander 191 – 192, Newgarden, Josef 193 – 194, O’Ward, Pato 195, Newgarden, Josef 196 – 198, O’Ward, Pato 199, Newgarden, Josef 200

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Point Standings:
Palou 183, Dixon 163, Power 157, O’Ward 134, Herta 134, McLaughlin 131, Newgarden 122, Rossi 120, Rosenqvist 116, Kirkwood 115, Lundgaard 102, Ferrucci 95, Rahal 87, VeeKay 87, Armstrong 81, Grosjean 79, Lundqvist 73, Simpson 70, Ericsson 68, Canapino 56, Rasmussen 51, Fittipaldi 50, Harvey 47, Blomqvist 46, Robb 46,  Ilott 39, Theo Pourchaire 38, Daly 21, Larson 21, Sato 19, Carpenter 14, Luca Ghiotto 14,  Castroneves 10, Colin Braun 10, Nolan Siegel 10, Hunter-Reay 6, Andretti 5, Legge 5

Historical and event notes from the 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

  • This was the second career Indianapolis 500 victory for Josef Newgarden in his 13th career “500” start.
  • Josef Newgarden became the sixth driver to earn back-to-back victories in the Indianapolis 500 and the first since Helio Castroneves achieved the feat for Team Penske in 2001-02. The others: Wilbur Shaw (1939-40), Mauri Rose (1947-48), Bill Vukovich (1953-54) and Al Unser (1970-71).
  • Josef Newgarden became the 11th two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. He is the first driver to join the two-time winner’s club since Takuma Sato in 2020. Sato also won in 2017.
  • Team Penske earned its 20th Indianapolis 500 victory, extending its event record. Chip Ganassi is second with six wins, five with Chip Ganassi Racing and one as a co-owner with Pat Patrick.
  • Team Penske repeated its feat of sweeping the front row in qualifying and winning the race. Rick Mears won from the pole in 1988 after his teammates Danny Sullivan and Al Unser started second and third, respectively. Team Penske drivers Scott McLaughlin, Will Power and Josef Newgarden started 1-2-3, respectively, in this race in only the second front-row sweep in “500” history.
  • This is the 14th time the car that started third won the Indianapolis 500. The last winner from the No. 3 starting spot was Takuma Sato in 2020. The event record is 21 winners from the pole.
  • This is the 13th Indianapolis 500 victory for a Chevrolet engine, elevating it to third in event history. Offenhauser is first with 27 wins, followed by Honda with 15.
  • This is the 11th time car No. 2 has won the Indianapolis 500, tying that number with No. 3 for the most wins in “500” history. Newgarden also won last year in No. 2.
  • The last time an American driver or drivers have won two consecutive Indianapolis 500s came in 1991 and 1992. Rick Mears won in 1991, Al Unser Jr. in 1992.
  • Josef Newgarden is the fourth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 at age 33. The last was Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014.
  • This is only the fourth time the Indianapolis 500 has been decided by a last-lap pass. The other two times: 2006: Sam Hornish (Team Penske) passed Marco Andretti on the front straightaway; 2011: Dan Wheldon passed JR Hildebrand on the front straightaway; 2023: Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) passed Marcus Ericsson on the back straightaway.
  • Eighteen different drivers led at least one lap today, an event record. The previous record was 15 drivers in 2017 and 2018.
  • Helio Castroneves completed the full 500-mile distance for the 18th time in his Indianapolis 500 race career, extending his race record. He has been running at the end of the race in 22 of 24 career starts, also a race record.
  • There were 21 cars on the lead lap at the finish, just shy of the event record of 22 set in 2021 and 2022.
  • Scott Dixon led 12 laps today to extend his event record to 677 career laps led.
  • Scott Dixon has led at least one lap in 16th Indianapolis 500s, breaking the event record of 15 races led he shared with Tony Kanaan.
  • Christian Rasmussen was the top-finishing rookie today, in 12th place.
  • There were 49 lead changes, the fourth-highest total in “500” history. The record is 68 in 2013, followed by 54 in 2016 and 52 in 2023.
  • Helio Castroneves made his 24th Indy 500 start, moving into a three-way tie with Gordon Johncock and Johnny Rutherford for fourth place for career Indianapolis 500 starts. The record is 35 by A.J. Foyt, followed by Mario Andretti with 29 and Al Unser with 27.
  • The last time there was a yellow caution flag on the opening lap was 2015 when there was contact between several cars in Turn 1, eliminating Sage Karam from the race.
  • Marcus Ericsson became the first former winner to finish last since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2016.
  • Roger Penske is the first team owner to have two drivers win back-to-back Indianapolis 500s, with Helio Castroneves in 2001-02 and Josef Newgarden in 2023-24.
  • Scott Dixon finished third, giving him nine top-five finishes in 22 career starts.
  • Conor Daly advanced more positions than any other driver, finishing 10th after starting 29th.
  • Fourth-place finisher Alexander Rossi finished in the top five for the sixth time in nine Indy 500 career starts.
  • Christian Lundgaard recorded the fastest lap (226.373 mph) of the race on Lap 175.
  • NTT P1 Award winner Scott McLaughlin led a race-high 64 laps today, the first “500” laps he has led in his career.
  • There were seven drivers who led the Indianapolis 500 for the first time: Scott McLaughlin, Sting Ray Robb, Christian Lundgaard, Kyle Kirkwood, and rookie drivers Kyffin Simpson, Kyle Larson and Christian Rasmussen.
  • All 18 lap leaders finished on the lead lap, beating the event record of 11, set in 2023.

The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear on Sunday, June 2 on the streets of Detroit.

Story by Tim Hailey, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Chevrolet. Photos by Hailey

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