Josef Newgarden won a chaotic Indy 500 with a last-lap overtake on former F1 driver Marcus Ericsson; Newgarden is a two-time IndyCar champion but had never won the Indy 500 before Sunday; the race at Indianapolis was red-flagged three times due to several accidents
By Nigel Chiu
Last Updated: 28/05/23 10:05pm
Josef Newgarden won his first Indy 500 after overtaking Marcus Ericsson on the last lap in a chaotic finish to America’s biggest motor race.
Newgarden came out on top in a last-lap shootout after the race was red-flagged three times in the final 16 laps.
The Penske driver slipstreamed and overtook Ericsson down the back straight to make the move into Turn Three, before holding off the former Formula 1 driver through the final turn.
Santino Ferrucci was third, from Alex Palou and Alexander Rossi, with less than one second splitting the top five.
“I’m just so thankful to be here. I started off as a fan in the crowd. This place is amazing,” said Newgarden.
“Regardless of where you are sitting – driving the car, working on it, in the crowd – you are part of this event and the energy. Thank you to Indianapolis. I love this city.
“Everyone kept asking me why I hadn’t won this race. They look at you like you’re a failure if you don’t win and I wanted to win it so bad, I knew we could.”
He added: “With one lap to go you want to be second and it actually worked out great that I got a run on the back straight. I knew if I could just get him and clear him into [Turn] Three, maybe we could hold on until the line.
“But he was so quick on the straights that it wasn’t guaranteed. It was a fight, just a big fight. It’s not easy to win this race. It’s the most difficult race in the world to win.”
Ericsson criticises one-lap shootout
It is not unusual for an Indy 500 to finish under caution (behind the safety car) but officials decided the race should be decided with one final lap.
Ericsson led Ferrucci out of the pit lane and the race immediately went green, in order to get one racing lap which the Swede was unhappy about.
“It was an unfair, dangerous end to the race,” he said. “We’ve never done a restart out of the pits. We don’t get the tyres up to temperature.
“We did everything right today. I did an awesome last restart. I caught Josef completely off guard, kept the lead into Turn One which no one has done all day.
“I just couldn’t hold it on the back. I’m proud of us, congratulations to Josef, he’s a worthy champion. I’m just disappointed with the way that ended. I don’t think that was fair.”
Tyre goes over fence and hits car outside circuit
The first red flag came with 16 laps to go when a scary accident saw Felix Rosenqvist collect Kyle Kirkwood, with the latter’s left-rear tyre flying over the catch fence, past the crowd and into a parked vehicle outside of the circuit.
NBC reported nobody was injured and both drivers were released from the medical centre, after Kirkwood went upside down at Turn Two.
McLaren’s Pato O’Ward was in contention for victory in the final part of the race as he had the freshest tyres, but he tagged Ericsson when trying to take second place with 12 laps remaining and crashed out. Simon Pagenaud and Agustin Canapino were also involved in an accident at the same corner in a separate incident, so the red flag was brought out again.
A third red flag was called with two laps to go when there was a pile-up towards the back of the field, with all drivers coming away unharmed after the famous 500-miles race came to a conclusion.
Source : Sky Sports