Race Weekend Central

Josef Newgarden Wins 107th Indianapolis 500

It’s a cliché to be sure, but the first 199 laps of the Indianapolis 500 don’t matter. The trophy, the glory and the bottle of milk only go to the driver who leads lap 200. 

This Sunday (May 28), in the 107th running of the Indy 500 at historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Josef Newgarden was that driver. The Tennessee native took the lead for the final time on the final circuit to claim his first career win in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in his 12th attempt.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion seized the lead from defending winner Marcus Ericsson on a one-lap shootout after three red flags waved inside of 15 laps to go. Newgarden started the race in 17th.

The victory is the 19th for team owner Roger Penske but the first since the legendary figure bought IMS and the IndyCar Series in winter 2019.

After a mostly clean race to that point, the first red flag was called for a horrifying crash in turn 2 that eliminated Felix Rosenqvist, sent Kyle Kirkwood upside down and his left rear tire into a nearby parking lot. No injuries were reported. 

The second came on the following restart, as Pato O’Ward dove to the inside of Ericsson in turn 3 and lost control, collecting Simon Pagenaud, Scott McLaughlin and Agustin Canapino in the process. 

See also
Kyle Kirkwood, Felix Rosenqvist Involved in Major Indy 500 Crash

The third came when contact between Benjamin Pedersen, Christian Lundgaard and Ed Carpenter blocked the track, forcing the field down into the pits with 197 laps completed of 200, setting up a one-lap shootout to decide the Indianapolis 500.

Ericsson fired off strong, but Newgarden reeled him in, making the move down the backstretch and deploying the same defensive weaving that earned Ericsson the trophy last season all the way to the yard of bricks.

“I’m just so thankful to be here, you have no idea,” a tearful Newgarden told NBC Sports from racing’s most famous victory lane. 

“I started out as a fan in the stands, and this place – it’s amazing, regardless of where you’re sitting. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving the car, you’re working on it, or you’re out here in the crowd, you’re a part of this …

“Everyone kept asking me why I haven’t won this race, and they look at you like you’re a failure if you don’t win it, and I wanted to win it so bad. I knew we could, I knew we were capable. Thank you to Shell, Team Chevy, everyone. It’s a huge team effort as everybody knows … I’m just so glad to be here.”

Ericsson stayed second, with Santino Ferrucci enjoying a career day to finish third for AJ Foyt Racing. Fourth place marked a huge recovery for Alex Palou, and Alexander Rossi came home fifth.

Former winners Scott Dixon and Takuma Sato were sixth and seventh, followed by Indiana’s own Conor Daly in eighth. Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay completed the top 10.

2023 Indianapolis 500 Results

The opening quarter of the race was dominated by Palou and VeeKay, who started next to one another on the front row and executed their plan to perfection, controlling the pace and maintaining good fuel mileage by trading the lead back and forth. Though McLaren teammates Rosenqvist and O’Ward broke up the party after the second round of stops at lap 68, Palou and VeeKay’s teamwork kept them both in the hunt. 

But under the first caution of the afternoon for Sting Ray Robb’s crash, the burgeoning bromance was brought to an early end. VeeKay spun exiting his pit stall, making hard contact with Palou’s No. 10 and destroying his front wing. Both were able to continue, Palou after a wing change and VeeKay after a drive-through penalty.

Palou then became a man on a mission, recovering from a low of 28th to crack the top 10 again within 30 laps. While neither driver was a factor in the finish, they nevertheless brought home strong results at the end.

Pit road proved challenging for others as well. Katherine Legge, returning to the speedway with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing after a decade away, lost control leaving her pit box on the first round of stops. The No. 44 crew took the car behind the wall, and Legge was scored with a 33rd-place result.

Then, it was Herta, who had worked his way from 21st up to the margins of the top five just past halfway. Leading the Andretti Autosport charge, Herta hit the pits on lap 134, the Gainbridge crew changing four Firestones and the young American taking off – directly into the path of his teammate Romain Grosjean

Both Andretti teammates were able to continue, but Herta desperately needed a caution to keep from going a lap down. Unfortunately for Andretti, that caution was for Grosjean crashing out in turn 2. 

With liveries commemorating two of McLaren’s victories in the so-called Triple Crown of motorsports, much of the middle stages of the race were dominated by teammates Rosenqvist and O’Ward, who kept the rest of the field at bay while saving fuel, at times dropping the average speed below 210 mph. 

But on a lap 139 pit cycle, Ericsson gate-crashed the teammate party, bringing Newgarden and Ferrucci with him. 

With 40 laps to go, the younger American stormed into the lead and ran away with it. More than 24 years after AJ Foyt last won the Indianapolis 500 as an owner, the star-spangled No. 14 was in prime position.

However, as Ferrucci made his final pit stop, the No. 14 pit crew lost control of a front tire, which rolled out of the stall for just a moment before being caught by the right-front tire carrier. 

Prompting debate in the NBC Sports booth, Ferrucci was awarded a penalty: not a drive-through, but a warning and a monetary fine. He finished third at the flag, the first podium finish of his career.

With Newgarden’s face soon to appear on the Borg-Warner Trophy, the conversation turns to the chase for the Ascot Cup. The NTT IndyCar Series championship continues June 4 with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix from an all-new street circuit in the Motor City. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.

About the author

swansey.jack

Jack Swansey primarily covers open-wheel racing for Frontstretch and co-hosts The Pit Straight Podcast,but you can also catch him writing about NASCAR, sports cars, and anything else with four wheels and a motor. Originally from North Carolina and now residing in Los Angeles, he joined the site as Sunday news writer midway through 2022 and is an avid collector (some would say hoarder) of die-cast cars.

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