Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: Breaking Down a Barn-Burner Indy 500 & a Marathon Coke 600

With Formula 1’s Grand Prix of Monaco, IndyCar’s Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, Memorial Day weekend is one of — if not the — greatest day of the year for auto racing enthusiasts across the world.

And whether they watched the Indy 500 from the TV or the stands, fans and viewers alike were treated to an absolute thriller.

The 107th Indianapolis 500 by the Numbers

52

  • The number of lead changes in the latest edition of the Indy 500.
  • It was third-most in Indy 500 history behind 2016 (54) and 2013 (68).

14

  • The number of drivers that led at least one lap in the Indy 500.
  • That is tied with 2013 for second-highest number of leaders in Indy 500 history. Only 2017 and 2018 (15 leaders) had more drivers take a turn out front.

.0974

97.5

  • The number of miles led by Pato O’Ward, who led the most laps of the afternoon (39).
  • 2023 marked the first 500 since 2013 where not a single driver led 100 miles (Ed Carpenter led all drivers with 37 laps and 92.5 miles led in the 2013 running).

21

  • The number of years it’s been since a driver won back-to-back Indy 500s (Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002).
  • Had the race ended under caution from the crash involving Graham Rahal, Benjamin Pedersen and Carpenter, Ericsson would have accomplished the feat.
  • With finishes of first and second in the last two years, it’s the best two-year run a driver has had at Indy since the late Dan Wheldon finished second and first in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

5

  • The number of laps led by Newgarden in his first Indy 500 win.
  • Newgarden’s win is the third time since 1996 that the winner of the Indy 500 led fewer than 10 laps. Wheldon only led the final lap in his 2011 win while Juan Pablo Montoya led nine laps in his 2015 win.

19

  • The number of Indy 500s won by Team Penske.
  • Roger Penske’s first win as an owner was with Mark Donohue in 1972. The team has won 36.5% of the 52 Indy 500s since.

3

  • The number of red flags periods during the race (all of them were within the final 15 laps).
  • Three marks the most red flags in Indy 500 history.
See also
The Pit Straight: Controversy at Indianapolis & the Future of Monaco

With the field taking the green and white flags together for the final restart, the 2023 Indy 500 marked the first race since 1997 to end with a one-lap shootout.

Heading into the weekend, Newgarden had the fourth-most American open wheel racing wins (26) of drivers that had never won the Indy 500.

  • With Newgarden crossing the line at Indy for win No. 27, Michael Andretti (42), Sebastien Bourdais (37) and Paul Tracy (31) are the only drivers with more than 25 career wins to have never won the Indy 500.

Santino Ferrucci finished third for his first career podium in the NTT IndyCar Series.

  • In five Indy 500 attempts, Ferrucci has recorded finishes of seventh, fourth, sixth, 10th and third.
  • The third-place finish also marked the best result for AJ Foyt Racing in Indy 500 since 2000, when Eliseo Salazar finished third. The team had won the race a year before with Kenny Brack in 1999.

Coca-Cola 600

On the NASCAR side of the weekend, the Coca-Cola 600 was rain-delayed to Monday (May 29). The race was a long, grueling marathon, as it featured 16 cautions and lasted just under five hours.

With 31 lead changes, drivers were able to pass with ease and the race had relatively good competition out front despite a handful of cars dominating. The fallout from the Chase ElliottDenny Hamlin incident will dominate all the storylines.

But the biggest story from the Coke 600, from a statistical standpoint, was the winner.

See also
Ryan Blaney Snaps Winless Streak With Coca-Cola 600 Victory

Ryan Blaney finally put a dominant performance together from start to finish.

Blaney has led 3,377 laps in his NASCAR Cup Series career so far, so him dominating a race wouldn’t normally be a surprise. But aside from winning one of NASCAR’s crown jewels, the No. 12 team’s win was a tremendous moment for Blaney, Ford and Team Penske in more ways than one.

Entering Memorial Day weekend, Blaney was 0-for-11 in winning Cup races where he led at least 100 laps.

In fact, Blaney had just one Cup win (Talladega Superspeedway in 2020) where he led more than 35 laps. Blaney had led just a combined 164 laps in his first seven Cup wins, and he almost doubled that total on Monday night.

Blaney was also 0-for-5 in winning at non-superspeedways after leading the most laps in his Cup career. By leading 163 of the 400 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Blaney put both of those unfortunate statistics to rest for good.

Ford had won just 1 of the first 13 races of the 2023 season.

It’s been a miserable start to the year for Ford in the Cup Series, but they still had a long way to go to reach the nadir they encountered in 2010, when the Blue Ovals had zero wins in the first 20 races.

But even then, Ford’s lone win had come with Joey Logano at Atlanta Motor Speedway: a drafting track. Ford had looked out to lunch on just about every other track type to start this season, with the exception of Kevin Harvick at Phoenix Raceway and all of Stewart-Haas Racing at Martinsville Speedway.

So, for Blaney to dominate the expected favorites of Chevrolet and Toyota at Charlotte — and snap a 59-race winless streak in the process — is a monumental statement.

Roger Penske became the first owner to win the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same year.

Chip Ganassi Racing (and the then-named Earnhardt Ganassi Racing) almost accomplished the feat in 2010: Dario Franchitti won the Indy 500 while Jamie McMurray finished second to Kurt Busch in the Coke 600.

But a fantastic Sunday for Team Penske was followed by a historic Monday, and Penske’s Memorial Day weekend performance will go down in the record books.

And while we’re on the topic of history, Justin Haley made some NASCAR history of his own on Monday.

It wasn’t the same Double Duty that Kyle Larson will be attempting next year, but it was double duty for NASCAR.

And Haley, who finished 15th on the lead lap in the Coke 600 and finished one lap down in 12th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Alsco 300 later that night, set a record for the most miles driven in NASCAR races on the same day.

Ty Gibbs was the only other driver to run both races, and he was one lap shy of Haley’s feat after finishing two laps down in the Coke 600 after a late-race crash.

Up Next: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway

It’s a fast turnaround for the Cup Series, who will go to battle in the second Cup race held at Gateway. The Xfinity Series has an even longer trek, as they will return to the Pacific Northwest’s Portland International Raceway for the second straight year.

Stay tuned for all the upcoming action on June 3 and 4 this weekend.

About the author

Thanksgiving Photo

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch and is a three-year veteran of the site. His weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” He also writes commentary, contributes to podcasts, edits articles and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage.

Can find on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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