Race Weekend Central

Inside IndyCar: 2024 Indy 500 Driver Reviews

The 2024 Indianapolis 500 was one for the ages. It had a rain delay, drama on track, unbelievable racing and a great finish. While the win went to Josef Newgarden, there were 32 other drivers who had their own story to tell. And while the focus is on those up front, and possibly some of the others who were there but then faded, it’s only fair that each get their moment.

Across the field, there were impressive drives from the back to the front, there were penalties overcome and some notable milestones such as finishing the Indy 500 for the first time.

Every driver has a story. Take a look at the full-field rundown of the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Winner – Josef Newgarden

Newgarden’s back-to-back win was an instant classic. The duel between he and Pato O’Ward will be in clips highlighting this event for generations. This year he had less traffic to deal with as he was in the top 10 all race long when not cycling through pit stops. For his 30th IndyCar win and Roger Penske’s 20th Indy 500 win, he will receive a huge bag of money – over $4.2 million. Also, this kicks him back up the points after getting zip for the retroactive revocation of his win St. Petersburg. 

Runner-up – Pato O’Ward

The images are everywhere. O’Ward’s emotions after losing out by less than half a lap will be the most vulnerable any driver will ever let themselves appear because Indy means this much. Looking at his stats in his career, he adds another runner-up to the one from 2022, to go with a fourth and sixth. His average finish in Indy 500s in which he was running at the finish is 3.5. Very good for a guy who just finished his fifth Memorial Day Classic. For the most popular driver in IndyCar, does his destiny take him down a Tony Kanaan path, or that of Michael Andretti? As for the team, Arrow McLaren has been incredibly strong in the last few 500s, but have yet to take the checkered first. 

Third – Scott Dixon

An alternate pit strategy got the six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon toward the front. But he didn’t have the car or the Honda engine to hold off the high-speed Chevrolets of Penske and Arrow McLaren. This is his first podium since his second place in 2020. He added 12 more to his IMS record-holding tally of laps led, increasing it to 677. Also, this is his 16th race led out of his 22 starts in the 500.

Fourth – 11th

Up until Lap 193, it seemed like fourth place finisher Alexander Rossi was going to be the one dueling Newgarden for the win. But a gutsy pass by teammate O’Ward in turn 1 cycled the 2016 Indy 500 winner behind the pair ahead. He never was able to catch either of the front two again, and Dixon was able to find a way around him on the final lap. Rossi can walk away feeling confident in the performance as he continues to rack up great stats at the two-and-half-mile track. In seven of his nine starts, the American has finished seventh or better. Now he’s earned back-to-back top fives with McLaren and his best result of the year. 

Heading into the Month of May the favorite was fifth-place finisher Alex Palou. He was the man to beat last year and won the Sonsio Grand Prix which, while not a clear sign of oval strength, is a momentum builder for any team. However his Honda wasn’t up to the task like Chevy in the race. He did work his way in to the top 10 by lap 36 and hung around there the rest of the day. The best part of his effort was getting to the finish while other championship contenders had troubles. He takes a 20-point lead over Dixon into Detroit this weekend (June 2).

A career-best result of sixth at Indianapolis probably feels the worse of any of them to Scott McLaughlin. The fastest polesitter in Indy 500 history was the dominant force up through his lap 131 pit stop, but after that he was never up front again. He led the most laps in the race, but when he found himself stuck in traffic because of alternate strategies were cycling other cars in front of the line, he never recovered. Still, it was a strong showing, and the fact that he improved his performance at the race his owner prioritizes over all things will play well for his future at Team Penske. 

Besides O’Ward, Kyle Kirkwood had the most back and forth day of any driver in the field. He qualified 10th, the best of the Andretti Global cars, but a bad first pit stop under yellow relegated him to last in line on the restart. Then he worked his way back up to the top half of the field by the lap 88 stops, but unfortunately was penalized for avoidable contact, which required a green-flag drive through. A few lucky breaks did fall his way though, such as the caution on lap 107 which enabled him to catch up to the rear of the field. From there he worked his way as high as fifth before settling for seventh at the end.

The 2024 Indy 500 was not as glamorous for eighth-place finisher Santino Ferrucci as last year. Again the A. J. Foyt Racing team showed great speed in the 500 mile race, but could never get up to the top two to challenge for the lead like they did in 2023. Well, Ferrucci couldn’t, his teammate on the other hand is another story. Still it was his third top 10 of the year in what has been a surprising good start for the long-time legacy IndyCar team.

Considering the poor luck that struck Rinus VeeKay on qualifying weekend, his ninth place is the best the team could probably get out of the car. He never really challenged up front and hung around mid-pack. An avoidable contact penalty from pit road contact sent him to the rear on lap 63, only adding his difficult day. 

If any proof was needed why charters in IndyCar and the lame duck idea of guaranteed spots are not necessary then look at Conor Daly in the one-off, Indy-only Dreyer Reinbold Racing team. Their 10th-place finish, in what could be Daly’s only IndyCar race in 2024, was a bright spot in the Indy 500. Not only did he finish in the top 10 after starting 29th, therefore earning the award for most positions gained in the race, Daly also led 22 laps. That’s a big deal for the Noblesville, Indiana native. It probably felt pretty good to beat his old car from last year as well, who ended up a bit deeper in the running order. But again, a one-off team showed up and competed, besting some of the full-time operations for a top 10. 

The final spot in the top third of the running order belonged to Callum Ilott who started dead last on the field due to a mechanical issue with his transmission after engines were fired. It seemed his day may have been over a second time when he touched wheels with Pietro Fittapaldi on the turn 1 accident, but he soldiered on, finishing 11th in his last race with Arrow McLaren for the year.

See also
Christian Rasmussen Slips Through Chaos to Lead Rookies at Indianapolis

12th – 22nd

The rookie Christian Rasmussen by far had his best showing in an IndyCar with his 12th place finish at the Indy 500. He kept it clean and even ran in the top 10 for a while. Even though he was the best full-time IndyCar rookie in the race, he lost out on the Rookie of the Year to the Double-Not-Double driver. Ed Carpenter Racing should look at putting Rasmussen in more ovals if this is the result.

Christian Lundgaard made his way from 28th to finish 13th. Due to alternate strategy, he was able to get up close to the front but drifted as the stints went longer. The Dane still doesn’t have ovals figured out but at least improved his previous best result of 18th in 2022.

The two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato was the highest qualified Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car and hung around the teens for most of the race. He did make his way into the top 10 on the second restart of the race but never mounted a charge further up the grid. 

Graham Rahal rounded out the three-in-a-row of RLLR cars that started with Lundgaard, with a 15th place result. Considering where he started, it was a day of moving up, but that Indy 500 win to match his dad’s 1986 triumph still alludes him. He did pace the field for one lap, the first since 2021. Results could have been better if not for a pit road speeding violation in the late stages requiring a drive-through.

The most surprising run of the day belonged to the 16th place finisher, Sting Ray Robb. The second-year driver in his first outing at Indianapolis with A. J. Foyt Racing led 23 laps as he joined Daly on that alternate pit strategy. He led as late as lap 150, but when the final stops occurred to set the run to the finish, he was cycled out to the back and had to climb up to his final finishing spot. However, it was still his best showing in his short IndyCar career and had to please Super Tex.

Ed Carpenter‘s string of poor showings at his home track continued with his 17th place result. However the American had a good run going right after the halfway point, making it as high as seventh as green flag stops occurred around lap 130, but later the decision to pit under the yellow at 151 put him behind. Trying to gain some advantage by topping off on fuel didn’t work in his favor. 

While the Double effort may have came apart, the run the 2024 Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson had was impressive. He handled traffic better than expected and learned quickly, especially on how to handle restarts after his first one dropped him back a few spots. Later on he was able to pass cars like a regular IndyCar driver. It’s clear he fit in and belonged on track. His 18th place is a bit of a disappointment but that was because of a speeding penalty rather than performance. Now the question is will he return?

A 19th isn’t that exciting, but Romain Grosjean should be at least relieved as he finally made it to the end of an Indy 500 in his third attempt. He ran in the middle of the pack through the halfway mark, but fell towards the back where he finished. 

The Drive For Five for Helio Castroneves seemed to have some life to it in the late stages. By lap 130 he had worked up to sixth behind Larson and poised to be in contention for the final 175 miles. But for some unknown reason he wasn’t able to make up the track position after the ensuing stop, struggling to get out of the teens. It still was a good showing for the newest addition to the Indy-only specialist ranks.

Rookie Kyffin Simpson seemed to get comfortable as the race went on. Through pit stop strategy and cycling, he led his first three laps and finished 21st in his first Indy 500.

Agustin Canapino showed improvement in his second attempt at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The Argentinian was well on his way to a top-10 result for his Juncos Hollinger Racing squad, but a speeding violation got him on his last stop, sending him to the back. A killer mistake ruined what was shaping up to a great result. 

See also
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Leaves Indianapolis No Better, No Worse

23rd – 33rd

What could have been for Colton Herta. His 23rd doesn’t give fair testimony to how great his car was, especially compared to the rest of the Hondas in the beginning of the race. His crash while in second was made only worse by the latter fact he might have been able to drive away had he’d realized or known the damage wasn’t as severe. He hung in to finish the race in the end.

Unlike his Team Penske teammates, Will Power did not have the car to run up front. He drifted back after the first round of pit stops and was never a factor until his crash. Since he finished fifth in 2019, he hasn’t managed a top 10 since.

Marco Andretti continued his run of unimpressive Indy 500 results since going to a single IndyCar race in 2021. His crash took him out while he was running down in the order and he finished 25th. 

The 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay had a fast car but it didn’t work well for him in the race. HIs move on Dixon on the backstretch had two distinct opinions, some thought it was a late dive while others maybe a chop by the six-time champion. Regardless, the wheeling to keep it off the wall while spinning down the backstretch was impressive. He finished 26th.

Had Felix Rosenqvist’s engine held up, he wouldn’t have completed the race in 27th, that’s for sure. He was up front in the top 10 when it went sour, the final mechanical failure for the Honda’s in the 108th Running. 

Rookie Linus Lundqvist didn’t get too much time to experience his first Indy 500. He wrecked on lap 28 and ended up 28th.

Katherine Legge’s Honda ruined her chance to finish the Indy 500, the second one to let go in the race. She was slotted in 29th. 

Indy 500 rookie Marcus Armstrong made it a few laps before his engine started smoking, ending his day. He was placed 30th.

Rookie Tom Blomqvist‘s mistake on the opening lap in turn 1 collected multiple drivers on top of ruining his race. He finished 31st.

Pietro Fittipaldi was an innocent by-stander in the opening lap wreck that ended his day and placed him 32nd. He made it through but then was hit by Ilott, spinning and hitting squarely rear-end first into the wall. 

2022 Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson had nowhere to go when Blomqvist spun and hit the wall. His car gained some lift, but then landed safely on its wheels to roll towards the grass beyond the apron. A disappointing last-place run for the former winner.

About the author

Tom is an IndyCar writer at Frontstretch, joining in March 2023. He also works full-time for the Department of Veterans Affairs History Office and is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard. A native Hoosier, he calls Fort Wayne home. Follow Tom on Twitter @TomBlackburn42.

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