Newgarden Finally Gets His Indy 500 Victory

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 28 2023

Josef Newgarden finally has the Indy 500 championship that has been eluding him. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)


Josef Newgarden scratched a major item off his racing to-do list Sunday when he won the 107th edition of the Indianapolis 500.

Newgarden had won two IndyCar Series championships, appeared on 48 podiums and had won 26 lesser races but Sunday’s was his first in the Big One. The Biggest One.

The Team Penske driver got the win when he passed defending 500 champion Marcus Ericsson on the backstretch on the final lap and hit the yard of bricks just ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ericsson.

Santino Ferrucci gave his legendary team owner, AJ Foyt, a podium finish by coming home third.

Pole-sitter Alex Palou of the Ganassi team was fourth, Alexander Rossi of Arrow McLaren was fifth and was followed by Ganassi’s Scott Dixon.

The end of the race came on a one-lap shoot out after a the third of three red flags wave in the final laps of the event.

Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden celebrates with fans.

Instead of climbing the fence to celebrate, Newgarden went under it and into the crowd to celebrate.

“Everyone just kept asking me why I haven’t won this race,” Newgarden said. “They looked at you like you’re a failure if you don’t win it. I wanted to win it so bad. I knew we could. I knew we were capable. It’s a huge team effort, as everybody knows. I’m so glad to be here.”

He led just five laps total on the day.

The finish marked the third time in Indy 500 history a driver used a last-lap pass to win.

“I was just trying to stay locked in,” Newgarden said. “I was emotional the last 10 laps because I knew we were in a position to fight for this win at the end. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew it was going to come to some last-lap shootout like it always is these days, which is exciting but stressful for us.”

The win was the 19th for team owner Roger Penske, but first as the owner of Indy Speedway. After the race he said he is ready to go for No. 20 next year.

The ending capped a wildly chaotic final laps with featured the red flags and some very scary wrecks. A couple of those wrecks took out drivers who appeared to be in position to get the win – notably Pato O’Ward, led a race-high 39 laps and Felix Rosenqvist, who led 33 laps.

Newgarden was in the lead when the event restarted with four laps to go following a red flag period. But just after the green flag waved, Ericsson passed for the lead. A blink after that, a wreck occurred at the back of the field to bring out a yellow and then a red flag.

When the race resumed under green/white flags, Newgarden was second, Ferrucci was third, Alexander Rossi was fourth and pole-sitter Alex Palou of  Chip Ganassi Racing fifth.

Newgarden stayed with Ericsson through the first two turns at the 1.5-mile track and then made his winning pass half way toward Turn 3.

Benjamin Pedersen and the top finish among the four 500rookies in the field, 21st in the No. 55 AJ Foyt Racing/Sexton Properties Chevrolet after being eliminated from the race in a late, multicar accident. That incident triggered the last of the event-record three competition-related red flags, all in the last 15 laps of the race.

Graham Rahal’s May from hell continued. Prior to the roll off, his Dreyer&Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports Chevrolet lost power and had to be pushed back into the pits with a battery issue. The car was eventually fixed and moved back onto the track.

But by then, Rahal, who was bumped from the field during final qualifying before being given the car of injured Stefan Wilson, was down by a lap. Too bad, too, as once he was able to benefit from running in traffic, he turned laps at speeds comparable to those of the leaders.

Because of the late race chaos, Rahal finished 22nd.

Katherine Legge, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver who instigated the practice-session wreck of Wilson on Monday, had more problems on race day as well as she spun her car on pit road. Her damaged car had to be taken to the paddock for repairs and would not return.

She finished last.

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 28 2023
No Comment