The 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 was a true classic! Although it got started late due to
heavy thunderstorms, the race itself started with rolling thunder of its own. On the first lap,
rookie Tom Blomqvist got his left side tires too low on the rumble strips and lost control. His
ensuing spin collected 2022 champion Marcus Ericsson who had no place to go. Meanwhile,
Callum Illot punted Pietro Fittipaldi from behind and that put Fittipaldi into the wall and out of
the race. All this happened before the completion of Lap 1! It was as if all the drivers were too
anxious to get going after the long delay and get to the front just in case the rains came again
(which thankfully never did). Fast forward a bit and three Honda drivers had their engines let go
within 56 laps! Those cautions also started playing with different pit strategies. Once the race
was past half distance, and the weather showed clear for the evening, every driver seemed to
settle in a bit. Or so everyone thought. If you wanted to make it to the front from the back, it
seemed like it had to be done on strategy.

Up front however, the Penske threesome was strong and at or near the lead all day. Santino
Ferrucci also jumped two positions at the start to run in the top five. The McLaren threesome of
Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi and Kyle Larson were all near the front and all looking strong.
With different pit strategies, Sting Ray Robb (AJ Foyt Racing) was able to move to the front as
well as Conor Daly (Dreyer and Reinbold Racing / Cusick Motorsports).

A 200 mph lawn mower featuring Ryan Hunter-Reay was created when he had a great tow going
and tried to move to the inside of Scott Dixon who in turn was moving to the left and got in
RHR’s way. Unavoidable contact put RHR’s right front into Dixon’s left rear and that was the
end of the day for the 2014 champion. Meanwhile, Dixon seemed to get away unscathed and
kept moving forward from his 21st starting position. There was controversy whether or not Dixon
would get a penalty, but race control chose not to penalize Dixon.

Christian Lundgaard took his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car to the front along with Rinus
VeeKay driving for Ed Carpenter Racing. A lot of drivers were working their way into good
strong positions during the race biding their time for the last 50 laps. Dixon worked his way from
21st to lead and Larson had a pit speed violation that caused him to lose his top ten position. He
would later lead the race on an alternate pit strategy before ultimately finishing 18th.

With less than 10 laps remaining, Rossi, O’Ward, Dixon and Newgarden were the strongest.
With two laps to go, it was Newgarden leading O’Ward. On the last lap going into Turn 1,
O’Ward took the lead on the front straight getting a huge roar of approval from the fans. On the
backstretch he snaked his car left and right to try to break the tow, but Newgarden was able to
draft by and take the lead on the outside going into Turn 3. Both drivers were flat-out and driving
the race of their lives! Newgarden’s move was at exactly the right time and place and he was
able to hold off O’Ward. For the second year in a row, Newgarden was the elated Indy 500
champion. O’Ward was devastated finishing in second place. The last lap also saw Dixon get by
Rossi to round out the top three.

Other drivers who impressed and made great progress through the field were Alex Palou who
moved from 14th to 5th, Daly from 29th to 10th and rookie Christian Rasmussen (ECR) who
moved from 24th to 12th. After starting fifth and running up front for most of the day, Larson was
named the “500” Rookie of the Year. On the other side of the coin, McLaughlin (after starting
from pole) led for 66 laps, but faded to sixth at the finish.

If next year’s race is as exciting as this year’s event, it will be another fantastic Indianapolis 500!

NOTE: It was announced on the Wednesday after the race that Helio Castroneves will be
subbing for Tom Blomqvist for the upcoming Detroit Grand Prix this weekend and Road
America after that. It was a hard decision for the team, but they’re hoping that they can get the
number 66 car higher up in the points standings. It was also announced that Tristan Vautier
would be returning to the NTT IndyCar Series to drive the number 51 car for Dale Coyne Racing
replacing a revolving cast of drivers so far this year.

Copyright © 2024 Larry Mason

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

Winners drink milk! Josef Newgarden earned an emotional second win at Indy which was hard fought all the way through. He made the winning pass on Pato O’Ward on the last lap to clinch his second consecutive victory in a thrilling finish.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment: Aaron Skillman

It took a four-hour delay to get the race started but only a couple of corners before rookie Tom Blomqvist went too low onto the apron, lost it, and collected 2022 “500” champion Marcus Ericsson. Both drivers walked away.