Pagenaud Wins Indianapolis 500 Thriller

After winning the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Simon Pagenaud dumped the milk on his head in celebration. © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

After winning the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Simon Pagenaud dumped the milk on his head in celebration. © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

By Joe Jennings

INDIANAPOLIS – In a hotly contested shootout over the final 18 laps of the Indianapolis 500, Simon Pagenaud nipped Alexander Rossi by a mere 0.2086 seconds to win the 103rd edition of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The margin of victory was the seventh closest in the race’s history.

With the win, Pagenaud becomes the fifth French-born driver to win the 500. The last one to do so was Gil de Ferran in 2003. De Ferran is a Brazilian citizen but was born in Paris. Pagenaud is the first Frenchman to win since Gaston Chevrolet in 1920.

“This is a dream come true; I have spent a lifetime trying to achieve this. It’s just incredible,” said the very happy winner. “I had a spirited drive today. Today was about attacking, and the car was just on rails. When you have a car and a team like this, it is all about achieving and executing at the end, and we executed perfectly today.”

Team owner Roger Penske was equally thrilled with the victory, “I’ve been here many years and the last couple of years, somebody passes you and it would be over. Happened to Helio a couple times, but that flight at the end you knew we were building up to something with 15 laps and they take the cars that are not on the lead lap and put them in the back. It really sets up for an amazing run and good clean racing.

“You see how close it was. One more lap, it could have gone the other way. To Kyle Moyer, Kyle is the man that ran that pit and Ben (Bretzman) the engineer, they’re the ones that deserve the credit. We come here with four cars, we’re all on a particular car and these guys were the winners today. I tell you, Simon arrived here this month, I don’t know if it was May 1st or May 10th and he never left until today, so it’s a tremendous situation.

“I got a call from the President (Trump) while we were in the winner’s circle. We had been down there with Joey (Logano), and he congratulated me, saying, ‘I must have been your good-luck charm.’ President Trump was in Japan and Simon had a chance to talk to him, so hopefully he’ll be invited to the White House.”

Although Pagenaud started from the pole and led 116 of the 200 laps, his dominance was challenged severely by Rossi in the waning laps. Their duel was set-up after a multi-car wreck triggered a red flag on the 178th lap. The race stoppage lasted 18 minutes.

When the green flag came out on lap 187, the pair swapped the lead on two occasions while running very close – pulling alongside and jockeying for the lead, thrilling the capacity crowd.

The winner drove the Menard’s Team Penske. For Pagenaud, he won his 13th NTT IndyCar Series race and Team Penske earned its 18th Borg-Warner trophy and captured its 206th overall victory.

Also, Pagenaud won the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the road course two weeks ago, a fete accomplished by teammate Will Power a year ago.

Rossi finished second but was unimpressed with the outcome. Even though he pulled off many sensational moves, it was not enough to gain a repeat victory. “Horsepower made the difference,” he bellowed after climbing from his NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda. “Team Penske did a great job. Obviously, he did a great job and led the most laps, but I think we had the superior car. Unfortunately, nothing else matters here but winning. This one will be hard to get over and it will suck for a while.”

2017 winner Takuma Sato drove gamely to finish third in the Mi-Jack Panasonic Honda of Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan.

Team Penske teammates Josef Newgarden and Will Power were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Ed Carpenter brought his Chevrolet home in sixth followed by Santino Ferrucci, who started 23rd and had the best finish of seven rookie drivers.

Rounding out the toop-10 finishers was Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Conor Daly.

Four caution flags consumed 28 laps and all but the one that triggered the race stoppage. In that one, Graham Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais came together in Turn 1 while among the leaders. In the melee, the cars of Zach Veach, Charlie Kimball and Felix Rosenquist were also involved.

There were several incidents during pit stops and in one of them, Chris Minot, a Rahal Lettrerman Lanigan crew member sustained a leg injury and was transported to a nearby hospital for evaluation.

103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge results
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – Results Sunday of the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge NTT IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 200, Running
2. (9) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 200, Running
3. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 200, Running
4. (8) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 200, Running
5. (6) Will Power, Chevrolet, 200, Running
6. (2) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 200, Running
7. (23) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 200, Running
8. (22) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 200, Running
9. (16) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 200, Running
10. (11) Conor Daly, Honda, 200, Running
11. (32) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 200, Running
12. (15) James Davison, Honda, 200, Running
13. (4) Ed Jones, Chevrolet, 200, Running
14. (3) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 200, Running
15. (24) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 200, Running
16. (30) Pippa Mann, Chevrolet, 200, Running
17. (18) Scott Dixon, Honda, 200, Running
18. (12) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 199, Running
19. (31) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 199, Running
20. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 199, Running
21. (25) Jack Harvey, Honda, 199, Running
22. (19) Oriol Servia, Honda, 199, Running
23. (13) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 198, Running
24. (26) Jordan King, Honda, 198, Running
25. (20) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 196, Running
26. (10) Marco Andretti, Honda, 195, Running
27. (17) Graham Rahal, Honda, 176, Contact
28. (29) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 176, Contact
29. (28) Zach Veach, Honda, 176, Contact
30. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 176, Contact
31. (33) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 71, Contact
32. (27) Ben Hanley, Chevrolet, 54, Mechanical
33. (5) Colton Herta, Honda, 3, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 175.794 mph
Time of Race: 2:50:39.2797
Margin of victory: 0.2086 of a second
Cautions: 4 for 29 laps
Lead changes: 29 among 10 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Pagenaud, Simon 1-31
Power, Will 32-34
Carpenter, Ed 35
Sato, Takuma 36-37
Rosenqvist, Felix 38-41
Pagenaud, Simon 42-63
Carpenter, Ed 64-66
Power, Will 67
Rossi, Alexander 68-69
Dixon, Scott 70-72
Pagenaud, Simon 73-98
Carpenter, Ed 99-100
Newgarden, Josef 101
Rossi, Alexander 102-105
Dixon, Scott 106-110
Rosenqvist, Felix 111-112
Pagenaud, Simon 113-128
Rossi, Alexander 129-137
Dixon, Scott 138-142
Pagenaud, Simon 143-150
Newgarden, Josef 151-170
Carpenter, Ed 171
Ferrucci, Santino 172
Power, Will 173-175
Sato, Takuma 176
Pigot, Spencer 177-180
Rossi, Alexander 181-186
Pagenaud, Simon 187-197
Rossi, Alexander 198
Pagenaud, Simon 199-200

NTT IndyCar Series point standings: Pagenaud 250, Newgarden 249, Rossi 228, Dixon 203, Sato 203, Power 184, Hunter-Reay 157, Hinchcliffe 145, Pigot 133, Ferrucci 129.

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