Indianapolis — The Indianapolis 500 is the race Joseph Newgarden desperately wanted to win.
Basically, it’s the only race that matters to his boss.
For the two-time IndyCar Series champion Newgarden, the 11th consecutive vacant entry was a personal one.
But on Sunday he finally won the Indy 500, extending team owner Roger Penske’s record to 19 wins, making him the first since Penske agreed to buy the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the end of 2019. It gave him his first victory in the race. Newgarden did it in a bold move. Last year’s race winner Marcus Ericsson passed during a desperate 4.5-mile sprint to the finish line.
“The last three or four years we’ve had a tough fight here. Every day after each qualifying weekend there were so many questions to answer,” said Newgarden. “We had to come out and put on a brave face, but it’s not an easy place to succeed. is not.”
“But I think a lot of people look at this race and this championship that way. The 500 exists on its own and if you don’t get a 1, your career is really a failure.”
After the race was red flagged for the third time in the final 16 laps, race control reviewed the running order at the time of the yellow flag, moving Newgarden from fourth to second.
He took advantage of his improved position to slingshot past Ericsson on the restart.
After the race, Newgarden stopped his Chevrolet-powered car on the frontstretch, jumped out, found a hole in the fence, and dived into part of the crowd, estimated at over 300,000, to hold a celebration. Newgarden then climbed the fence and imitated longtime Team Penske driver and four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.
The 32-year-old Nashville native Newgarden is the first American to win the Indy 500 since Alexander Rossi in 2016. He led five of the 200 laps and narrowly beat Ericsson for the fourth-closest finish in 107 years. 0.0974 seconds.
Ericsson was quick to criticize IndyCar’s decision to have a one-lap shootout to the checkered flag. Rather than wave the green flag outside the pitlane on lap one, he thought the race should have ended cautiously and he should have been the winner.
“I don’t think there were enough laps to do what we did,” said Ericsson. “It doesn’t seem safe to come out of the pits and restart with cold tires when half the field is still on the track when it turns green. I don’t agree with that. ”
Newgarden and Ericsson were followed by Santino Ferrucci, 88-year-old A.J. Foyt aka Supertex, the team’s best performance since Kenny Black reached victory lane in 1999. left.
Chip Ganassi Racing pole sitter and race favorite Alex Palou finished fourth after recovering from a crash on pit road, with Rossi fifth, but not for the Arrow McLaren team. was a disappointing day.
Fastest pace ever, the Indy 500 ended with three red flags in the final 16 laps.
The first was a crash involving Felix Rosenqvist and Kyle Kirkwood, who were near the front of the pack. Kirkwood’s car flipped upside down and slammed into the catch fence, launching a terrifying run of sparks through a short chute.
One of Kirkwood’s wheels climbed over the fence and barely made it through the packed auditorium. Alex Damron, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, wrote in an email that the wheels did not injure anyone, but damaged a parked car. A spokeswoman added that one person was treated at the infield care center and released because of other debris from the crash.
At the restart, Pato O’Ward, who was already scheduled for the restart, set his pace too late and was called off, but was shuffled from 1st to 3rd as Newgarden shot and took the lead. O’Ward and Ericsson then entered Turn 3 side by side and touched wheels, with O’Ward sliding into the wall and leaving the race, another disappointing result for Arrow McLaren.
Agustin Canapino turned 360 behind him and cut the brake line. Unable to stop, he crashes into O’Ward’s car.
The race was suddenly red flagged for the second time with six laps remaining.
Last year’s race was red flagged with five games remaining, with Ericsson leading O’Ward to the finish line. Ericsson held him off for the rest of the way and many criticized O’Ward for not making more aggressive moves to win.
Newgarden didn’t make the same mistake with Ericsson in front of him.
As Newgarden crossed the brick yard, Penske and the entire organizing committee celebrated by jumping on the high ground near the start/finish line. And Penske, the 86-year-old team owner, seemed like a happy child for a moment.
“For the last two laps, I forgot that I was the track owner and said, ‘Let’s go for it,'” said Penske, who joined Newgarden in an open-top Chevrolet Camaro for a victory lap around the speedway. Told.
Parking spaces within Penske’s speedway have been simply marked 18 for the past four years. Newgarden was still fulfilling his post-race media duties when the spot changed to 19.
Livia Albek-Lipka Contributed to the report.