Newgarden wins second straight Indianapolis 500

motorsport27 May 2024 03:05| © AFP
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Josef Newgarden © Gallo Images

Josef Newgarden of Team Penske denied a late challenge from Mexican Pato O'Ward to win a thrilling and incident packed Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, becoming the first back-to-back winner in 22 years.

New Zealand's Scott Dixon finished third in the race which had been delayed by four hours due to heavy rain and lightning in the area.

The crowd were rewarded for their patience during the storm delay with a dramatic finale to the race.

O'Ward, whose best finish in the race was runner-up in 2022, looked to have timed his push perfectly, grabbing the lead in turn one on the final lap.

But Newgarden powered back to pass him going into turn three and claim a record-extending 20th victory in the Indy 500 for Penske.

Newgarden finished 0.341 ahead of Arrow McLaren's O'Ward and celebrated by jumping into the crowd.

"There is no better way to win a race than that. I've got to give it up to Pato as well," Newgarden told race broadcasters NBC.

"He's an incredibly clean driver. He could have easily won this race, too, but it just fell our way and I am so proud of everybody, proud of the whole team," he said.

The last driver to win back-to-back in the fabled race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was Brazilian Helio Castroneves, who triumphed in 2001 and 2002.


O'Ward was distraught after again getting so close to the prize he has sought for so long.

"It's hard to put it in words. I'm proud of the work that we did today. We recovered. we went back, we went forward, we went back," he said.

"Some people were just driving like maniacs. We had so many near race enders and just so close again, so close," he said.

"I put that car through things I never thought he was going to be able to do. Oh man, it's just so painful when you put so much into it and then two laps short, or two corners short," he added.

Alexander Rossi of Arrow McLaren, had jousted with Newgarden for the lead but finished fourth with Spaniard Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing in fifth.

Penske's Scott McLaughlin, who started on pole, finished sixth.

The lead changed 87-times over the 500 miles with 16 different race leaders.

The opening lap was a chaotic one when British rookie Tom Blomqvist caused a crash on the opening lap that collected 2022 winner Marcus Ericsson of Sweden and Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi.

Blomqvist lost control after touching the curbing and span across the track colliding with Andretti Global's Ericsson.

"I can't believe it," said Ericsson after completing a medical check.

"It's unbelievable. It's so frustrating. I don't know what to say. We had to work so hard. We fought all last weekend. We fought all week and this happens," he said.


Marco Andretti failed to finish after his car made wall contact as he was approaching O'Ward on turn one of lap 114 after a restart following a yellow flag.

"I don't really trust half the guys I'm around, but you've just got to go for it and whatever happens, happens," said Andretti.

The victory for Newgarden was a sweet moment for Penske who have endured criticism and sanctions after a cheating scandal.

Team president Tim Cindric, race engineer Luke Mason and two others were suspended for two races including the Indy 500.

The suspension came after IndyCar uncovered a set-up on three Penske cars at Long Beach last month allowing drivers to utilize a "push-to-pass" button on starts and restarts in violation of series rules.

Newgarden was stripped of his win in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the season opener and he didn't miss the chance to respond to the critics.

"They can say whatever they want at this point, I don't care anymore," said the Tennessean.

"I'm just so proud of the team, they crushed it. They came in with the fastest cars and we've worked our tails off," he added.

"Luke, Tim, they are not here today but they are a huge part of this," he added.