Newgarden finally claims Indy 500 victory after three red flags and last-lap restart


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Josef Newgarden passed and held off defending Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson in a one-lap sprint to the finish to finally claim the victory which has long eluded him.

The race came down to a single-lap restart after three crashes in the final 20 laps led to three red flag stoppages and restarts.

Ericsson led at the final restart as the 200th and final lap began, leading Newgarden to the green and white flags. Ericsson was able to weave and keep Newgarden behind through turns one and two, but Newgarden made a strong run down the back straight, slipstreamed past, and took the lead into turn three.

Newgarden defended aggressively all the way to the chequered flag and grabbed the win. He started the race in seventh, methodically picked his way through the field early on to put himself in position to win.

Ericsson finished second by less than a tenth of a second, narrowly missing chance to become the 500’s first back-to-back race winner since Hélio Castroneves in 2002.

The chaotic end to the race began with 16 laps to go. Felix Rosenqvist washed out of the racing line at turn one and hit the wall in the short chute, his damaged car spinning in front of Kyle Kirkwood. The pair made contact which flipped Kirkwood upside down into the barriers at turn two.

Both drivers were unharmed. The left-rear wheel of Kirkwood’s car flew over the fencing and struck a vehicle, apparently without causing any injuries.

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That incident caused the first red flag, and when it lifted there was eight laps remaining. Pato O’Ward led ahead of Newgarden and Ericsson, but the McLaren driver lost out when he tried to back up the field on the restart. Ericsson passed him, then Newgarden swept by the pair to take the lead before turn one.

The race ran largely caution-free – until the end
O’Ward tried to get back past Ericsson into turn three but the move came too late and low, and he spun and crashed. Agustin Canapino spun and crashed on his own, his damaged car ploughing into the back of O’Ward’s. Simon Pagenaud was hit from behind by Scott McLaughlin as the field checked up into turn one, but the three latest retirees all climbed out of their cars.

That brought out a second red flag and set up what should have been a four-lap sprint to the finish. But as Ericsson led Newgarden to the line Ed Carpenter, Graham Rahal, Benjamin Pedersen and Marco Andretti were caught up in a wreck. Instead of ending the race under yellow, a third red flag was shown, setting up a controversial final-lap showdown where Newgarden swept past Ericsson and held on to claim the one missing prize from his CV.

AJ Foyt Enterprises nearly had a shot to win the 500 for the first time since 1999. Santino Ferrucci had to settle for third place after a sluggish final restart, which is still his career-best result in IndyCar.

Points leader Alex Palou finished in fourth place but could have won having led early on when he and fellow front row starter Rinus VeeKay traded the lead strategically. Unfortunately, Palou’s chances took a big hit after Sting Ray Robb crashed at turn one, causing the race’s first full-course caution. The field pitted for fuel and tyres, and as VeeKay tried to exit his stall spun and crashed into Palou.

Incredibly the Ganassi crew was able to repair Palou’s damaged nosecone without him dropping off the lead lap, which allowed him to charge through the field in the second half.

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Alexander Rossi, the 2016 race winner, finished fifth for McLaren on a day of wasted opportunities for the team. Rosenqvist and O’Ward linked up at the front during the middle stages only to crash out in the final 50 miles. O’Ward led 39 laps and used an alternate pit strategy to his competitive which appeared to give him a great chance to win without having to save fuel, until his race unravelled.

Scott Dixon’s search for a long-awaited second Indy win eluded him. A severe vibration in his first stint sent him tumbling down the order, but even after a rattle so severe it was shaking his rear wing, he recovered from the setback and finished in sixth. His Ganassi team mate Takuma Sato came seventh in what may be the two-time Indy 500 winner’s last appearance of the 2023 season.

Colton Herta also came away with a surprising ninth place finish despite having to serve a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release into the side of team mate Romain Grosjean. Later in the race, 50 laps from home, Grosjean crashed out at turn two for the second straight Indy 500.

VeeKay, who also earned a drive-through penalty for the collision with Palou, recovered to finish in tenth.

Four-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves was 15th on the day after an unscheduled stop during the middle of the race caused by a vibration. Fellow veteran Tony Kanaan completed all 500 miles in his final IndyCar start. The 2013 race winner and 2005 IndyCar champion called time on an American open-wheel racing career that spanned 26 seasons with a 16th place finish.

Despite being swept up in the last wreck of the race, and despite starting two laps down due to a battery issue which cropped up on the formation laps, Graham Rahal was classified 22nd driving the number 24 car that was originally set to be driven by Stefan Wilson before he suffered a back injury in practice on Monday.

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2023 Indianapolis 500 result

12Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
28Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
314Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
410Alex PalouGanassiHonda
57Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
69Scott DixonGanassiHonda
711Takuma SatoGanassiHonda
820Conor DalyCarpenterChevrolet
926Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
1021Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
1123Ryan Hunter-ReayDreyer & ReinboldChevrolet
1277Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
1329Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
143Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
15106Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
1666Tony KanaanMcLarenChevrolet
1798Marco AndrettiAndrettiHonda
1830Jack HarveyRLLHonda
1945Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
2033Ed CarpenterCarpenterChevrolet
2155Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet
2312Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
245Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
2560Simon PagenaudMeyer ShankHonda
2678Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
276Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
2827Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
2918David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
3028Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
3151Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda
3250RC EnersonAbelChevrolet
3344Katherine LeggeRLLHonda

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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40 comments on “Newgarden finally claims Indy 500 victory after three red flags and last-lap restart”

  1. Indycar created their own Abu Dhabi situation with this one. Why on earth do these series go against their own rules to create dramatic situations.

    I’m no Ericsson fan but he was really robbed of this one.

    1. RandomMallard
      28th May 2023, 22:48

      This kind of situation is not uncommon in Indycar. If there is a late incident, they will more often than not red flag it and try and finish under green, so the precedent is there. The one time (well, most notable time I can remember) they didn’t back in 2020, there was quite a bit of backlash that they did let it finish under yellow. Admittedly, I don’t think they’ve ever had to do it 3 times in 20 laps before, and I don’t think it was a particularly clever idea to only give one pace lap, I don’t technically think they went against any rules here. And while I agree that Ericsson was robbed slightly, where does the buck stop? You could also say Pato was robbed by the first red almost immediately after he got to the front (although admittedly he threw it away through his own doing at the restart). It’s the problem you get when you mix precedents, as both Indycar and F1 have found over the last few years…

      1. my opinion is that 1 lap shoot outs should be avoided at all costs as they’re hugely unsatisfying and always feel forced.

        1. RandomMallard
          28th May 2023, 22:54

          I’ll be honest, I don’t really know how I feel about these situations. I’m inclined to agree however as they do often feel pretty weird, but then you have to draw a line. What feels forced, and what is OK? Is 2 laps better than 1 lap? And so on.

          Although as I say, I don’t technically think any rules were broken.

          1. 5 laps green flag seems reasonable to me, though I’m going by gut feeling rather than any measurable line of thought. Essentially if it would be a yellow flag on lap 10, then it should be in the last 10 laps regardless of if you have enough time to clear the track. A few years ago at Iowa there was a very late yellow that led to some drivers pitting for tyres to gain what would have been a huge advantage…. except the race ended under the same yellow so they lost out because Indycar did something they weren’t expecting (from memory there were 5+ laps left in the race when the yellow came out).

            The issue is calling a red flag when there’s no safety reason for it and only to increase excitement. That’s when it’s a problem. Restarting with a handful or even a single lap is fine, so long as the rules are followed. They weren’t at Abu Dhabi and the (i believe unwritten) rule of 2 yellow flag laps before a green, after a red, obviously weren’t followed today. That’s the problem and it’s easily fixable if officiating sticks to the same rules for every race.

      2. I know what you’re saying and they’ll always be someone hard done by with a red flag due to the nature of Indy. Its the bending of the rules which annoys me the most. Sure red flag it to get a green finish if there’s time and it’s a dangerous situation, but don’t red flag it so late that you need to go straight to green from the pits (as far as ima aware has never happened before) feels wrong.

    2. To be fair no well established rules were broken. However I do agree, these pushes to create “dramatic situations” are only ever back firing by making it look like an amateurish mess.

    3. Unfortunately I have to agree. I’d much rather have typed what I was thinking I’d end up typing, that it was a pretty boring 500 so far as they go up to around lap 160. Clearly the aero changes made didn’t work.

      While Marcus was arguably very lucky to be in front when the yellow light went on, the fact that there was just a single green lap after is the issue. James Hinchcliffe alluded to in the broadcast during the final stoppage – that drivers usually get 2 laps of yellow to warm up the tyres before going green after a red flag. Obviously with 2 laps left, they couldn’t do that so changed it on the fly, rather than potentially calling the red flag a lap earlier (which I think could have been done, rather than waiting at least a lap) or running 2 laps under yellow to finish the race.

      While it’s for different reasons, today ended up as Abu Dhabi 21 did, with the driver in front unfairly being defenceless from the driver behind because officiating made the wrong decision.

      And Indycar has been inconsistent – they claimed there wasn’t time to throw a red flag at the 2020 500 but there was for Detroit a year later, costing Will Power a near-certain win when the ECU overheated and the car refused to start… for a red flag that was thrown only to ensure a green flag finish. Admittedly the reasoning in 2020 made sense thanks to the pit-lane entry being destroyed but the race being in August and no crowd to boo the decision probably factored into the decision. Whereas the same reasoning was used in Detroit, when the TV timing was from memory also overruning the slot. It’s the lack of consistency that’s the issue.

      Ultimately I’m left angry with the result and the only conclusion being that red flags should only be used if there’s a genuine reason for them – i.e. damage to the track or fencing, like in 2017. When I’m left feeling sorry for a driver I don’t have much time for, that’s a sign that someone got it wrong (which tbh also happened with Palou’s incident on pit exit, though that at least led to a fair penalty for Rinus).

    4. There’s no guarantee Ericsson was robbed. Newgarden had the pace, and demonstrated multiple times that he could catch and pass on the restart.

      I do think IndyCar waited too long on both of the last two red flags, and by throwing the red flag earlier, they could have avoided issues, just as with the Australian GP, had they allowed the pack to pass the end of the first sector before throwing the red flag, they could have avoided substantial awkwardness.

    5. Because from a fan perspective it’s much more exciting to have a last lap shootout.

  2. RandomMallard
    28th May 2023, 22:52

    Congratulations to Newgarden, he clearly wanted it and I think many would say it’s long overdue. Commiserations to Ericsson, he was very close, and I’m disappointed for Pato, although at the end of the day I think it was his impatience that lost it for him in the end. Very clever strategy calls from McLaren before that though.

    However I think by far the best news is that everyone is alright. There were some scary shunts in there, and it is a testament to the safety of the cars that everyone was able to walk away. What’s less of a testament to safety was the wheel flying through the air and managing to avoid the crowd. I don’t really know if anything more could be done to prevent it (the tethers are already pretty strong and can’t cover every eventuality), but it was sheer luck that it landed in a relatively deserted car park. Indycar narrowly avoided a tragedy today.

    1. The tyre clearing the fence was by far the scariest thing I’ve seen for years & I’m including Scott Dixon’s crash in 2017 which I saw from the turn 2 grandstands. The only unlucky person is the owner of the white car in the car park, which took a direct hit to the left front side of the bonnet.

      1. Yeah, but it was a Chevy. I’m sure at least one Indianapolis Chevrolet dealership has already reached out to them about repairs or replacement, and Roger Penske is too smart to let a public relations opportunity like this go past.

  3. Well that was… something. Overuse of the red flag made it feel like the finish to a NASCAR race. The red flag after O’Ward’s crash was questionable but the final one was just race control making it up as they went along as they skipped the warm-up lap to fit in the finish. It was incredibly lucky that there wasn’t another crash on the last lap just like last year. All in all I’m glad that Newgarden finally won after so many tries but the way we got there was a complete farce.

  4. The for show red flags and mess each one created just made the series look like a joke and the result of the race feel less satisfying somehow.

    That last red almost felt like it was called to get the Foyt car into victory lane given how great he was on restarts rather than simply to get a green finish.

    Even the commentators who were praising the initial reds seemed to be questioning the last one that did nothing but guarantee whoever was 2nd was going to win given how the leader on restarts had been a sitting duck each time previously.

    1. The for show red flags and mess each one created just made the series look like a joke and the result of the race feel less satisfying somehow.

      Absolutely, you can sort of see the idea that they massage the rules a bit to make sure that the only event on the Indycar calendar people really care about gets a racing finish (that’s not meant as a slight to Indycar; their other races are pretty cool too, but the size of the crowd tells the story). But then they keep tripping over themselves in their zeal to ensure such a finish, and end up with a whole series of questionable red flags and a clumsy straight-out-of-the-pits 1 lap ‘race’ that makes the win look underwhelming at best, and to many also rather questionable.

    2. I disagree that the red flags were “for the show” here. The final one there were wrecks on both sides of the finish straight for heavens sake.

      What was wrong was they didnt throw the red immediately and pull the cars through the pit lane. The sight of the whole field having to navigate through a narrow passage between two wrecked cars did not fill me with confidence. (and if theyed thrown the red immediately there would have been two laps left, so would have avoided the tyre warm up issues Ericsson complained about (even though they regularly come out of the pits on cold tyres and it was the same for everyone so I dont think he has a case that it was unfair))

    3. Any time you have multiple crashed cars on track (or a possible serious injury), red flags aren’t that uncommon in IndyCar, especially near the end of the race. IndyCar really does want to finish under green flag conditions, although occasionally they do finish under yellow.

      My problem in all three cases is that if you’re going to red flag the race, don’t wait around. The instant Kirkwood’s car came to a stop upside down, throw the red flag. They dithered on the next two accidents as well– the last accident, with both cars in the same stretch of the track, on opposite sides, a red flag was a no-brainer. But they still waited nearly 2 full laps before calling it.

  5. Quite the farcical event, but thankfully nobody was injured or worse by that flying wheel. It’s nice to see Newgarden win it, but the circumstances made a well deserved and long in the making win ultimately rather unsatisfying.

    Very unfortunate for Palou to be involved with Van Kalmthout in the pitlane after a very strong opening half. Quite impressive he managed to get back to 4th.

  6. It was a good race but the late red flags ruined it, and made it seem too much like a lottery. Having the slipstream in second was surely superior to leading as Ericsson got a great jump on the final lap.

    Also, it was ridiculous that Callum Ilott was able to pit just before a safety car and automatically cycle into the lead, similar to the situation in the 2000s. There is too much luck involved with these red flags and safety cars.

    1. Callum Ilott taking the lead due to pit-stop cycles is luck of the draw and always has been. It’s always been a downside of Indycar going back decades but at least on road/street courses they now try to cover cautions with a local yellow until everyone has had a chance to pit.

      Ovals are a different matter due to the higher speeds so you have to go yellow immediately if there’s any signs of debris. It’s just unfortunate the the first red flag was caused by an oval crash you regularly see, a driver being passed getting aero-washed into the barrier (which was probably a yellow until Kirkwood got caught up in it).

      1. I know it always works like this, but it is still a problem. The F1 version where everyone pits immediately and those who haven’t pitted gain an advantage is better because the advantage is less, but there are still bad situations like Australia 2018. The IndyCar version is like Singapore 2008 but without the crash being deliberate, and is too extreme an advantage.

        1. The issue is that with open pits the drivers are encouraged to drive around the track at full speed until they go into the pits. There have been several incidents – even fatal ones – because of that, and it is why IndyCar decided to close the pits until everyone has caught up with the pace car. It has been like this for the past 30-odd years, and IMO it has done its job preventing further incidents under yellow. The downside of course is that there is a risk of having one’s race result affected by the (un)lucky timing of a yellow, which is a problem but far smaller than someone getting hurt or worse.

          Maybe today with current technology there could be a way to police this differently which would remove the need to close the pits, but for now it is what it is.

    2. The Indy 500 is the most lottery like race on the calendar– Doesn’t matter how good your team is, how much you prepare, how good you are on the day– You’ve got to have luck on your side.

      Unusually for the 500, no one got screwed by a yellow just after a pit stop– that’s usually what happens, the lead cars will pit on schedule, the field gets agitated, someone crashes, and now the leaders find themselves 10+ positions down after the caution.

  7. Congratulations on winning the Indy 2½. Have a single-serve jigger of milk.

    1. Yeah, all the work Newgarden did by climbing up the grid from 17th, and being able to pass the leader on multiple occasions were totally irrelevant. /yawn

  8. RandomMallard
    28th May 2023, 23:55

    I’ve just had a curious thought. If we take the 3 red flag incidents, and put them in isolation (I.e. not immediately after each other, in 3 completely different races, and in the middle of the race so no kind of manufactured finish can be made. OK, the 3rs red flag might need to be in a SC restart situation just to make it make sense, but I hope you get the point), how many of them are red flags?

    I think it’s difficult to say the Kirkwood accident wouldn’t be a red flag. With the speeds involved, a car upside down, and a wheel over the fence, I don’t think there should really be a debate about this one.

    The other 2 are much more clear cut. The second one dod involve a few cars, but was relatively contained. The 3rd one reminds me a lot of the F1 crash at Mugello on the restart, and seen as there were 5 cars littered along the straight, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to suggest that this incident would lead to a RF. However, happening as it did, so close to the end, I do think it could have been covered by a yellow/SC through the pits (if that’s a thing in Indy?).

    I only thought about this because it raises the question, is the problem the red flags themselves, or how they’re handled in context. I could understand and argument that in isolation, definitely one and probably 2 of the incidents would ordinarily be a RF scenario, while the other is more borderline, and instead the problem is looking at the races synoptically and deciding how to go from there.

  9. There’s been accidents similar or worse to the Kirkwood one that in the fairly recent past earlier in races wasn’t a red flag.

    I can recall accidents at Indy involving more cars having bigger impacts and leaving more debris that were dealt with perfectly safely and adequately under a SC.

    Until red flags started been used later in races to ensure a green finish they were only ever called out for the most extreme accidents where barriers were damaged really badly.

    1. I think in the Kirkwood instance, its not unreasonable that a wheel leaving the circuit should trigger a red flag until the situation is clarified

  10. Newgarden still has the Superlicense points to enter Formula 1. This should be the time to crack the Penske Stranglehold and give him a chance to test out a Formula 1 car. As much the US has Logan, it is time to test Josef out.

    1. It would be interesting, but at the moment, he’s in a winning car, driving for the biggest team in IndyCar. He just won the biggest race of the year and made a substantial leap up in the standings.

      There’s nowhere he can go in F1 right now that offers the same type of opportunities. Right now, if you’re not in a Red Bull, you’re not winning races. Aston Martin isn’t going to let go of Alonso, and Stroll’s got a seat until his father says otherwise. Mercedes has their once and future champions, and Ferrari couldn’t race their way out of wet paper bag right now.

      If, and it’s a big if, a couple more teams show up, including perhaps Andretti Cadillac, there might be a seat– but right now, I don’t see the pecking order in F1 changing that much any time soon.

      F1 may be the biggest series in the world, but IndyCar is a really good racing series in the USA right now, and I don’t see Newgarden leaving any time soon.

    2. He’s clearly got the talent, but would he want to leave a top team in Indy to drive around the back of an F1 field? At this point he’s probably making more money in IndyCar than he would at Haas or a team like that.

    3. He wasn’t that interested as recently as 2022, saying to Autoweek: ‘The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been in racing and watched Formula 1, I don’t know it’s somewhere I really want to race. It doesn’t look as much of a driver’s championship to me.’ Nevertheless, he added: ‘It’s a very impressive championship, it always has been. It’s something I would certainly like to do. I’d like to drive everything that I could to have the experience. Then I’d have more first-hand knowledge to really speak on it.’ But: ‘I think IndyCar is really where you’re going to get the most competitive product as a racing driver. When you’re a driver at the top level, you want to have an opportunity to compete, to win the championship, to win big races regardless of your situation.’

      I think that’s fair, and it’s actually a bit surprising that more people don’t take this view that it’s more fun to be in the fight for wins than to merely make up the numbers (which is what 19 drivers in F1 are doing).

      A lot of drivers in F1 would be competitive in other series, but apparently the thrill of F1 (and, well… the paycheck) make it worthwhile to languish in the midfield for years.

      1. Indycars also look like a lot more fun to race than F1. Obviously you don’t see much drifting on the ovals, but on the other circuits, the Indycars drivers are really wrestling their cars over bumps, regularly countersteering, pushing their tyres so much harder than F1’s power steering limos with cheese tyres. I implore Racefans readers to tune in, and not just the Indy 500. I suggest Road America in roughly 4 weeks.

  11. FlyingLobster27
    29th May 2023, 6:10

    Good for Newgarden, but the mass of stoppages just put me past caring. When you’ve had two late restarts that didn’t even last a full lap, you’ve seen enough, just end it under yellow.

    The motorsport world on the whole needs to pay attention to the way some crashes have gone this year. A wheel cleared the fence today, fortunately no-one was standing where it landed; an entire car cleared the fence at Portimao, fortunately the section of grandstands where it landed was empty. Objects are clearing the fence, and our luck will run out.

    1. Plus we had multiple near misses with pitcrews in Indy and with marshalls in Monaco. It was a pretty scary weekend.

  12. Times like this remind me how great it is that Josef’s boss owns the speedway and the entire IndyCar series.

  13. Every once in a while I watch an Indycar race, a series which I used to follow closely, before it became such a lottery. It now seems to be an open wheel NASCAR mess. It’s a real shame.

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