Josef Newgarden only led five laps of the 107th Indy 500 but one of those was the all-important final one as he propelled past defending champion Marcus Ericsson in the third turn on the final lap and in to the hallowed grounds of Victory Lane at IMS for the first time in his brilliant career.
Newgarden captured his first likeness to be on the coveted Borg Warner Trophy on a day in which there were fifty-two lead changes and twenty-seven caution laps as a result of five accidents involving some nine drivers in total.
The biggest by-product of the incidents was a race record – three issuances of the red flag for a total of fifteen laps, which was necessary to clean up and restore the track surface for the multiple late restarts conducted in the final stages.
“If l get a chance to win the race, l’m not coming back with a top five result,” stated a jubilant Newgarden afterwards. “I was going to win the race or l was heading in to the wall.” That quote summed up both his determination and commitment to win his first Indianapolis 500 after eleven previous attempts at such.
Notes: The race had fourteen different drivers lead a lap with four of those leading at least thirty. Pato O’Ward led a race high thirty-nine circuits before an attempt to overtake Marcus Ericsson which led to him crashing into the third turn wall. O’Ward felt Ericsson facilitated the incident by not allowing him enough racing real estate, and when his right front touched the defending champion’s left rear, he lost control and ended a rather spirited run that had Victory Lane written all over it.
While Newgarden and Ericsson was the story at the end, Santino Ferrucci drove the wheels off his A.J. Foyt racing entry and finished third, giving his boss their best finish since 2000. Foyt was visibly enthused afterwards. His team also left IMS with his other driver Benjamin Pedersen capturing the Rookie of the Year Award after qualifying eleventh and finishing twenty-first as a result of a crash with just four laps to go in the race.
David Malukas registered the fastest lap of the day when he hustled around the famed IMS oval at a speed of 226.021 miles per hour.
Polesitter Alex Palou set the pace early but fell behind due to contact initiated by Rinus VeeKay in the pits. Palou would soldier back for a fifth place finish and still sits atop the driver points standings with 219, followed by Ericsson with 199, O’Ward with 185, and Newgarden with 182.
The 2023 Indianapolis 500 dealt out a robust seventeen million dollars in terms of the total purse with Newgarden collecting a record mammoth share of 3.666 million, followed by Ericsson with a payout of 1.043 million dollars.
Marcus Ericsson felt afterwards that a one lap shoot out for all the marbles was not the way to finish the race. While he was obviously frustrated with a second Indy 500 victory slipping through his hands, l too think he’s correct. While hindsight is always 20/20, Indycar race control should’ve gone to red flag conditions quicker which would’ve provided at least four laps of racing at the end.
It might not have changed the outcome, but the excitement would’ve been even more tremendous for the fans.
The next stop on the NTT Indycar Series is this Sunday June 4th when it invades the downtown streets of Detroit for the inaugural Chevrolet Grand Prix. Penske Corporation President Bud Denker is looking to showcase what promises to be an extravagant event while contributing to the revitalization of the area.
The race begins at 3 p.m. Eastern time and can also be seen live on WTHR 13 locally or streaming live on Peacock.
Danny Bridges who’s looking forward to both of the old school coney dog establishments in downtown Detroit, can be reached at (317) 370-8447 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.