After three red flags and several frightening wrecks, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was victorious in Sunday’s 107th running of the Indianapolis 500.
With just four laps to go in the race, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ Benjamin Pedersen collided to bring out the caution flag. With three laps left in the race and defending winner Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson in the lead, it had seemed like he was on his way to winning the 500 in back-to-back years.
But Newgarden had other plans. IndyCar race control displayed a red flag with just two laps left. The decision to red flag the race, then finish under the green flag, was controversial. In years past, the race would usually end under yellow if there was caution with that few laps to go.
The opening 90 laps were caution free, although not mistake free for some drivers. Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Katherine Legge had issues with her No. 44 Chevrolet that allowed her to complete only 41 of 200 laps.
Abel Motorsports’ RC Enerson’s race ended early due to a mechanical failure in his car, completing just 75 laps.
The day's first caution flag came out on lap 91 after Dale Coyne Racing's Sting Ray Robb tagged the wall in Turn 1. Robb was on the outside of Dreyer Reinbold/Cusick Motorsports substitute driver Graham Rahal entering the first turn when Robb got into the marbles causing his car to go around.
For the second consecutive year, Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean was unable to finish the race after wrecking in Turn 2. Grosjean’s car wiggled in the corner, causing him to uncontrollably hit the Turn 2 wall hard.
After crossing the Yard of Bricks and completing his 184th lap, Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist lost control of his No. 6 Chevrolet. After being passed by Newgarden in Turn 1, Rosenqvist struck the wall on the exit of the first turn. Once riding the wall, Rosenqvist eventually spun around in Turn 2, where Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood collided with Rosenqvist, sending Kirkwood upside down and his left-rear tire over the catch fence.
Thankfully, the tire narrowly avoided the grandstands full of thousands of fans, but it damaged a vehicle parked outside of Turn 2 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Following IndyCar race control's decision to red flag the race to allow the safety crews to clean up the wrecked cars and debris on the track, the green flag flew again. With his second-place finish to Ericsson in 2022, Arrow McLaren's Pato O'Ward chose to be ultra-aggressive with seven laps to go, ending his day early after losing control of his No. 5 Chevrolet on the inside of Ericsson in Turn 3.
Arrow McLaren’s two most promising cars of the day — O’Ward’s and Rosenqvist’s — ended their days in a pair of frightening wrecks.
The race was red flagged for a second time after O’Ward’s spin, but the race eventually resumed with four laps to go. Pederson and Carpenter were involved in a wreck on the front stretch, causing yet another caution, one that seemed would mark the end of the race.
IndyCar race control decided to throw the third red flag of the day, allowing the race to finish under green with a one-lap shootout to the finish. With the drivers sitting in their cars on the pit lane with just two laps to go, drivers were instructed that they would get one caution lap and would take the green flag and the white flag simultaneously.
Although Ericsson was able to hold off Newgarden in Turn 1 on the final lap, Newgarden was able to get a good enough tow to clear Ericsson before the entrance of Turn 3. After taking the lead with just two corners to go, Newgarden narrowly held off Ericsson for his first career Indianapolis 500 victory.
After capturing the victory and his cooldown lap, Newgarden parked his No. 2 Pennzoil Chevrolet on the Yard of Bricks. Newgarden climbed out of his car, ecstatic that he had just won the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and ran into the crowd to celebrate with the fans in attendance.
With his first Indianapolis 500 victory, Newgarden was able to take part in the winner’s traditions, drinking a glass of milk in victory lane with the winner’s wreath around his neck. With his victory, Newgarden’s face will be etched onto the Borg-Warner Trophy.