Josef Newgarden won a thrilling Indy 500 this morning with a last-lap overtake on Marcus Ericsson for his maiden win.
Three red flags in the final 16 laps created a sprint for the line, with the race going green for one final lap with Ericsson leading the way. Newgarden got a quick exit from Turn 2, running past the leader on the back straight to take the chequered flag and honours in one of motorsport’s most iconic events.
Ericsson was able to hold on for second, while Santino Ferrucci had led late on but was forced to settle for third.
Polesitter Alex Palou was forced to settle for fourth, low-speed contact from early leader Rinus Veekay as the field exited the pits enough to see him have to stop again for a front wing change before the lights went green again on Lap 101 following a Safety Car period called for when Sting Ray Robb crashed out.
Alexander Rossi rounded out the top five, rewarded with a strong result as one of the few who steered clear of any drama.
Scott Dixon was the best Kiwi driver of the day, finishing sixth having dropped down the order early on with left-side tyre vibrations which forced him to box.
The Kiwi great had been running as high as fourth off the back of a great start but ultimately dropped down the order to sit 21st once the first pit cycle was completed on Lap 34.
Scott McLaughlin came to the flag in 14th place, caught up in some late carnage as the red flag came out for the second time.
The scene for the thrilling finale was set with 14 laps remaining, Felix Rosenqvist spinning out of fourth place and clipping Kyle Kirkwood, who slammed into the wall and flipped. Kirkwood’s left rear detached on impact from Rosenqvist, launching over the safety fence and narrowly missing the crowd, collecting a car in the parking lot outside the track.
That set up what seemed to be an eight-lap sprint for the line, only for Pato O’Ward to make contact with Ericsson in a fight for second. The Mexican driver cannoned into the outside wall and threatened to liftoff with his front wheels off the ground, only to be collected by Agustin Canapino who spun out trying to avoid the incident. Further back, McLaughlin and Simon Pagenaud clashed, the latter hitting the wall.
The final red flag came with four laps to go, a number of cars caught up at the rear of the field when the lights went green and coming to a halt before the start/finish line. Involved in that were the likes of Ed Carpenter, Benjamin Pedersen and Graham Rahal, the latter’s day worsening after missing the start due to a battery fault.
From there, it came down to a one-lap dash to the line, with Ericsson looking set to go back-to-back off the front. A great run down the back straight proved the difference for Newgarden, the American taking the chequered flag by just .0974 seconds.