Newgarden takes sensational Indy 500 win after epic battle for glory

You could not take your easy off the Brickyard as the 108th running of the Indy 500 produced a stunner

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The Indianapolis 500 never fails to excite and even a four-hour rain delay couldn’t dampen the drama for IndyCar‘s headline race, with Josef Newgarden winning back-to-back titles.

The Team Penske driver, who has been at the centre of controversy in the series this year, repeated the move that saw him win the 2023 race by passing Pato O’Ward into Turn 3 on the last of 200 laps.

The decisive pass came after several drivers battled full-blooded for the win, with Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon constantly waiting in the wings for an opportunity that never came.

The Nashville native became the first back-to-back winner since Helio Castroneves and reignited his championship challenge in the process, delivering the goods for Roger Penske after his team locked out the front row the week before.

“I knew we could win this race again and [it was] just a matter of getting it right,” Newgarden told NBC Sports after the race. “There’s just no better way to win a race than that. 

“I gotta give it up to Pato as well. He’s an incredibly clean driver. You know, it takes two people to make that work. So it’s not just a good pass. It’s also someone that you’re working with, that’s incredibly clean.

“So I mean, I gotta give hats off to Pato, he could easily have won this race too. But it just fell our way.”

O’Ward devastated

A visibly upset Pato O’Ward was at a loss to explain how he lost the lead to Newgarden with just two turns to go. 

“It’s hard to put it into words,” O’Ward said on NBC Sports. “I’m proud of the work that we did today. We recovered, we went back, we went forward, we went back. Some people were just driving like maniacs. So close again. So f**king close.

“It’s just so painful when you put so much into it and then, two laps short, I guess. Or two corners short. It’s always a heartbreak whenever it’s just so close, especially when it’s not the first time and you just don’t know how many opportunities like that you have.”

And it’s worth noting that while the Indy 500 usually produces thrilling racing at the end of the 200 laps, it does sometimes struggle for action mid-race but this year was different.

IndyCar got the aero package and balance absolutely spot on for this race with cars making moves almost every lap, up and down the field although the regular cautions did aid the excitement with some wild restarts.

The 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: John Cote
The 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: John Cote

Kyle Larson’s deflation

NASCAR driver Kyle Larson was looking to do ‘The Double’ of racing in the Indy 500 and the Coke 600 in the same day, but the weather put paid to that. Nevertheless, the Hendrick Cars driver decided to stay at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and compete in the Indy 500.

At one point running as high as sixth on track, but his chances of victory were ended on Lap 135 when he had to serve a penalty for speeding in pit road. He eventually finished 18th.

Honking Honda’s engine woes

This race almost reminds you of McLaren and Honda’s disastrous partnership in Formula 1 between 2015 and 2017 because those engines were popping left, right and centre.

Unbelievably, the nightmare day began before a racing lap had been turned as Marcus Armstrong’s Chip Ganassi Racing car gave up the ghost under caution, ending his first 500 before it had even begun.

Katherine Legge, who had done so well to make it into the field in qualifying, was the next to suffer a failure, bringing out the second caution before Felix Rosenqvist then brought out the fourth of a truncated start in his Meyer Shank Racing machine.

And worst of all, the Chevrolet engines seemed to be the faster overall given the strong showings from Arrow McLaren, Team Penske and A.J. Foyt Racing, which just compounded the Japanese manufacturer’s woes, and let’s not mention their current MotoGP issues.

Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis is a motorsport journalist with experience working in BTCC. He is the resident IndyCar correspondent for Total-Motorsport.com and a top class F1 writer.
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