Race Weekend Central

Josef Newgarden Wins Indianapolis 500 for the Ages With Last-Lap Pass

Josef Newgarden had to wait 12 years to become a first-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. To become a two-time winner, he only had to wait 364 days.

As the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge saw a record-setting 16 different leaders, the Tennessee native became the first driver in more than 20 years to score back-to-back wins at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

And he did it in truly spectacular fashion.

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On lap 169, then-leader Alexander Rossi hit the pits for his final stop. Two laps later, Newgarden followed suit. Then, the following lap it was Scott Dixon and Pato O’Ward – setting up a four-way dogfight for the twin checkered flags.

With 19 to go, Newgarden was able to place the lap-down car of Agustin Canapino between himself and his pursuers, but that didn’t last long. Rossi, Dixon and O’Ward soon dispensed with the Argentinian.

From four it soon became two, as inside of five to go, O’Ward and Newgarden established themselves at the front of the train.

With two to go, O’Ward closed in on Newgarden on the long back straight — and lifted, preferring to slingshot past the American as the two took the white flag lap.

But for the second year in a row, Newgarden closed in on the leader down the backstretch, making a gutsy dive to the top on the entry to turn 3.

The No. 2 Pennzoil Chevy stuck, and the Nashville native completed the pass on O’Ward in the short chute before streaking his way over the finish line to earn his second Indy 500 victory in as many years, both decided by last-lap passes.

The victory is Newgarden’s 30th in the NTT IndyCar Series and Roger Penske’s 20th Indy 500 as an owner. As part of a Borg-Warner promotion, Newgarden’s victory might taste a little sweeter, as he also earned a $440,000 bonus for taking home back-to-back victories at Indy. It’s the same bonus he stole out from under Marcus Ericsson with a late-race pass just one year ago.

Another repeat tradition for Newgarden? Jumping into the crowd to celebrate.

“Unbelievable. I love this crowd.” Newgarden told NBC Sports from the yard of bricks. “I gotta always go in the crowd if we’re winning. I’m always doing that.”

“I’m just so proud of the team, they crushed it. They came here with the fastest cars, we worked our tails off, Team Chevy brought it. That’s the way I wanted to win the thing, right there.” 

Newgarden then addressed a controversial start to his season that saw a disqualification from the St. Petersburg opener, a punishment that led to suspensions for his race strategist and engineer due to a technical violation.

“They can say whatever they want after this point,” he claimed. “I don’t care anymore … Luke [Mason, engineer], Tim [Cindric, strategist], they’re not here today but they’re a huge part of this.”

Newgarden’s success came at the expense of O’Ward, a fan favorite who was left devastated after another close call at Indy. It’s the second runner-up finish for him in the last three years and the fourth race led in a row – all ending without the big trophy.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” O’Ward told NBC Sports. “I’m proud of the work that we did today… just so close, again. So f***ing close.”

O’Ward had to settle for second – his second such result in the last three years, with Dixon rounding out the podium. Rossi and Alex Palou completed the top-five finishers. Polesitter Scott McLaughlin led home Americans Kyle Kirkwood and Santino Ferrucci, Dutchman Rinus VeeKay and Indiana’s own Conor Daly to complete the top 10.

2024 Indianapolis 500 Results

For the first time in over a decade, Mother Nature attempted to dampen central Indiana’s Memorial Day weekend, adding an unforeseen complication to one of the weekend’s biggest stories. NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson would have to choose between starting the 500 for Arrow McLaren or making the flight to Charlotte to run NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600. 

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Larson chose Indianapolis, and as a result, he can add “led the Indy 500” to his illustrious resumé. The open wheel rookie recovered from a late speeding penalty and took advantage of an alternate fuel strategy to pace the field for four laps inside of 20 to go. Larson ended the race 18th at the flag, and after conducting TV and radio interviews, set off immediately for Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Calamity struck early and often, as McLaren’s other 500 one-off driver Callum Ilott experienced an electronics problem on the pace laps. The crew was able to swap steering wheels on the No. 6 and send the driver back out to take the green flag, delayed roughly four hours by rain from its scheduled 12:45 p.m. ET start.

Action struck in the very first corner. Rookie Tom Blomqvist clipped a rumble strip, losing control of his SiriusXM-sponsored Honda and collecting 2022 winner Ericsson along with him. 

“There was a car on the outside, and I just got a little tight,” Blomqvist told the media, including Frontstretch, from the infield care center. 

“I hit the curb, and at those speeds there’s a lot of force on the car. It spun me around. I’m just so disappointed for the team [Meyer Shank Racing], more than anything … plus the other guys involved in that through no fault of their own.”

Trying to avoid the spinning No. 66, Pietro Fittipaldi and Ilott came together, with the Brazilian getting the worst of it. 

“I got cleared to the bottom,” the grandson of two-time 500 winner Emerson told Frontstretch outside the infield care center. 

“We went, there was no problem, and then we got completely sidewalled – hit side-to-side, someone hit me and we went straight to the wall.” 

When the smoke cleared, the three Honda-powered cars were done for the day before it really even started.

As chaos continued through the first half of the race, there was a consistent theme: eight of the first nine DNFs came from Honda-powered cars.

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Rookie Marcus Armstrong pulled his No. 11 into the pits under the first caution, smoke billowing from the engine cover. On lap 23, Katherine Legge’s No. 51 suffered a similar failure, bringing out the second yellow flag of the afternoon. 

Another Honda-powered rookie, Linus Lundqvist, was eliminated on lap 28 following a four-wide move into turn 1 that came up short. Some 28 laps later, his fellow Swede Felix Rosenqvist fell victim to the same mechanical failure that claimed Armstrong and Legge.

Turn 1 remained a trouble spot, as second-place runner Colton Herta broke loose in the center of the turn on lap 86. The young Californian was able to avoid major damage, eventually sprinting back to Gasoline Alley where his Andretti Global team had repaired the Gainbridge Honda.

Herta returned to the track several laps down, hoping to steal some points off of other drivers’ troubles – like Marco Andretti, who backed his No. 98 into the wall on a lap 114 restart.

The first Chevy to fail to finish was 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, through no fault of his own. 

Hunter-Reay attempted to pass Dixon down the backstretch, and Dixon moved low. The two made contact, sending Hunter-Reay into a 360-degree spin. Miraculously, the 2014 winner was able to regain control of his No. 23 Chevy, keeping it away from other cars and the wall. 

But that wasn’t the only incredible save of the race. O’Ward stole the show with an awe-inspiring double save in turn 2 en route to his runner-up finish.

The final caution of the day fell on lap 147 came for the afternoon’s only exclusive non-Honda incident. Two-time series champion Will Power lost control of his No. 12 Verizon Chevy on entry to turn 1, and crashed hard, eliminating himself from competition.

“We couldn’t get the front to work from the outset,” Power told the media, including Frontstretch, from outside the care center. “I shouldn’t have gone to the outside.”

With its crown jewel event settled for 2024, the NTT IndyCar Series now rolls onward to the streets of downtown Detroit for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. That event will air Sunday, June 2 at noon ET on USA Network 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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Tom B

What was Newgarden so angry about when screaming into his cell phone with the bottle of milk. He was yelling Fxck with rage holding the glass bottle of milk. You could easily read his lips. Last year he poured the milk on top of his head. This year he did not.

Christian Andrews

I know.

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