Indianapolis 500: Josef Newgarden wins crash-filled race at Brickyard

Josef Newgarden

INDIANAPOLIS — Josef Newgarden won the crash-filled, weather-delayed Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, outdueling Pato O’Ward to become the first driver in 22 years to win back-to-back races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Newgarden, 33, who won the 2023 race, became the first driver since Hélio Castroneves in 2001-02 to win back-to-back Indianapolis 500s at the 2.5-mile Brickyard track. For winning the Borg-Warner Trophy for the second straight year, Newgarden earned a $440,000 bonus.

Newgarden climbed into the crowd to celebrate.

“I love this crowd,” Newgarden told NBC Sports moments after the race. “I’ve always got to go in the crowd.”

“Our team crushed it,” he said in a postrace interview.

O’Ward, from Monterrey, Mexico, was attempting to become the first Mexican driver to win the 500-mile race. He took the lead in Turn 1 on the final lap, but Newgarden passed him heading into Turn 3 and drove to the checkered flag.

O’Ward finished as the runner-up for the second time.

“So close again,” O’Ward said after the race. “This is so painful when you put so much into it and you come up two corners short.”

Alexander Rossi placed third, with Scott Dixon and Alex Palou rounding out the top five. Polesitter Scott McLaughlin finished sixth.

Other back-to-back winners in the race included Wilbur Shaw (1939-40), Mauri Rose (1947-48), Bill Vukovich (1953-54) and Al Unser Sr. (1970-71),

The 108th version of the annual race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway finally began after a four-hour delay as severe thunderstorms and lightning hit the Indianapolis area. Fans who waited out the delay saw more than 16 lap changes at the Brickyard.

The event had an 8:15 p.m. EDT deadline for completion due to local laws, IndyCar officials wrote in a tweet on X, formerly known as Twitter. The race ended with more than 30 minutes to spare.

The race has rarely started so late, and conditions at the track were much different than drivers had been familiar with as they navigated some turns with the setting sun in their eyes.

When the green flag dropped, drivers had to navigate the damp track and each other.

There were eight cautions during the first 114 laps at the Brickyard as six drivers in the field of 33 were eliminated from the competition.

It began on the first lap, as Tom Blomqvist went too low into the first turn, spinning out, the Indianapolis Star reported. The rookie driver took out Marcus Ericsson and Pietro Fittipaldi.

Katherine Legge, the only female driver in the race, suffered a mechanical issue on the 23rd lap and was out of the race. Five laps later, Linus Lundqvist crashed into the wall.

Felix Rosenqvist suffered a mechanical issue on the 58th lap, bringing out a caution flag for the fourth time.

On Lap 86, Colton Herta spun and crashed between Turns 1 and 2. Ryan Hunter-Reay made tire-to-tire contact with Scott Dixon on Lap 107, bringing out another yellow flag. Hunter-Reay was forced to drop out of the race.

Marco Andretti also spun out in Turn 1 on Lap 114 and hit the wall.

Will Power crashed on Lap 147, damaging the front of his vehicle after he crashed at the end of Turn 1.

NASCAR regular Kyle Larson finished 21st in his first Indianapolis 500. He missed starting Sunday night’s Coca-Cola race in Charlotte, North Carolina, but left after the race and headed south to compete in the NASCAR race.

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