Josef Newgarden wins Indianapolis 500

Josef Newgarden passed Pato O’Ward on the final lap to become the first driver to win back-to-back 500s since Helio Castroneves did it for Penske in 2001 and 2002.

INDIANAPOLIS: Josef Newgarden won the Indianapolis 500 for the first time since Helio Castroneves 22 years prior, giving Roger Penske a record-tying 20 victories in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

On the next-to-last lap of the rain-affected race on Sunday, the Tennesseean passed Pato O’Ward to become the first driver to win back-to-back 500s since Castroneves did it for Penske in 2001 and 2002. Just as he did last year, Newgarden pulled over on the track in his Chevrolet-powered car and crawled through a fence opening to join the celebration with fans in the grandstands.

I love this team of people. If we win here, I always have to go with the crowd always; I do that every time, Newgarden said.

O’Ward slouched his head over the driver’s seat, clearly disappointed. His goal was to win the Indianapolis 500 and become the first Mexican to do so in 108 runnings.

After having his March season-opening victory disallowed due to Team Penske’s usage of illegal push-to-pass software on their cars last month, Newgarden made an amazing comeback. In the victory, Newgarden made three use of the extra horsepower, and it took IndyCar almost six weeks to figure out that Penske had been manipulating the results.

Four crew members, including Team President Tim Cindric, were suspended by Roger Penske, the owner of the race team, IndyCar, the Indianapolis 500, and the speedway. Given that Cindric is regarded as the series’ greatest tactician, Newgarden suffered a severe setback upon his suspension.

Having won, Newgarden was ecstatic to move past the push-to-pass controversy.

He answered, “Yes, they can say whatever they want; I don’t even care anymore.”

Rain caused the race to start four hours later than scheduled, ruining NASCAR driver Kyle Larson’s opportunity to do “The Double.” He missed the start of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway due to the delay in Indianapolis.

Larson was good for the most part of the day, but two rookie errors caused him to finish in eighteenth position.

The highest-finishing Honda driver was Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing, who was followed by Alexander Rossi, O’Ward’s teammate at Arrow McLaren Racing. Three of the first four places went to Chevrolet.

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