Photo: Brandon K. Carter/ASP, Inc.

Josef Newgarden Goes Back-to-Back in Indianapolis 500

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – For the second year in a row, Josef Newgarden took matters into his own hands in the final lap of the Indianapolis 500, passing Pato O’Ward to secure back-to-back wins in the biggest race of the NTT IndyCar Series.

In a race delayed by rain for more than four hours, Newgarden and O’Ward were racing daylight as the laps wound down Sunday, with the two drivers trading the lead over the final seven laps of the race, with fan-favorite O’Ward taking the lead as the white flag waved as it seemed it might finally be his time to win.

However, Newgarden had one more trick up his sleeve in Turn 3, sweeping around O’Ward with a bold move to the outside and setting sail, keeping O’Ward in his rear view all the way to the finish to add another Indy 500 win to his resume.

“I knew we could win this race again; it was just a matter of getting it right,” Newgarden said. “There’s no better way to win a race than that. I got to give it up to Pato (O’Ward) as well. He’s an incredibly clean driver. It takes two people to make that work. It’s not just a good pass, it’s also someone that you’re working with that’s incredibly clean.

“I have to give hat’s off to Pato (O’Ward). He could have easily won this race, too, but it just fell our way. I’m just so proud of everybody. I’m proud of this whole team. Everyone that partners with us, Team Chevy. Just a great day.”

As he did last year when he broke his Indy 500 winless streak, Newgarden climbed from his car and sprinted into the stands to celebrate with his fans before returning to his crew and taking the lift ride up to Victory Lane.

Meanwhile, O’Ward was left to wonder what more he could have done in the final sequence leading up to the finish, tying his best Indy 500 finish, but falling short of the ultimate prize at the end of the day.

After an emotional few minutes with his crew, O’Ward attempted to sum up his feelings coming so close to the victory.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” a dejected O’Ward said with a sigh. “I’m proud of the work we did today. We recovered. We went back, we went forward, we went back. Some people were just driving like maniacs. We had so many near race enders. Just so close again. So fucking close.

“I put that car through things I never thought it was going to be able to do. Sometimes I said, ‘Ah, that’s it.’ Somehow I came out the other side of the corner. Just so painful when you put so much into it. Two corners short, I guess.

“[Indianapolis] owes me nothing. I would have much rather finished the race than compared to last year, but it’s always a heartbreak whenever you’re so close. Especially when it’s not the first time. You just don’t know how many opportunities like that you have.”

Six-time series champion Scott Dixon finished out the podium finishers, with a second Arrow McLaren machine piloted by Alexander Rossi finishing fourth after fading from the lead late when having to save fuel.

The remainder of the top-10 finishers were Alex Palou, polesitter Scott McLaughlin, Kyle Kirkwood, Santino Ferrucci, Rinus VeeKay, and Conor Daly.

NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson finished the race in 18th place after a pit road speeding penalty dropped him from his run that was tracking inside the top-10.

With the intense racing that took place after the late afternoon green flag following the lengthy rain delay, the race saw 49 lead changes among 18 different drivers, with McLaughlin leading the most laps at 64, with Newgarden up front for 26 laps.

There were also eight cautions throughout the race, with six of them coming for crashes, including a three-car incident on the opening lap with rookie Tom Blomqvist, 2022 Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, and Pietro Fittipaldi.

Linus Lundqvist crashed on Lap 28 in a four-wide move gone wrong, followed by Colton Herta crashing on Lap 86, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay getting together down the backstretch on Lap 107, Marco Andretti spinning in Turn 1 on Lap 114, and Will Power with a hard crash on Lap 147 after starting on the front row.

The other two cautions were as a result of blown motors out of the Honda camp, with Katherine Legge having issues on Lap 22 and Felix Rosenqvist having his problems on Lap 56.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.