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Josef Newgarden wins Indianapolis 500 after controversial restart

Josef Newgarden, driver of the Team Penske Chevrolet, celebrates by pouring milk on his head after winning the 107th Running of Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday in Indianapolis.  (Getty Images)
From staff reports

From staff reports

INDIANAPOLIS – Team Penske extended its grip at IndyCar’s most famous venue, but for its winning driver, the victory had been a long time in the making.

Josef Newgarden won the Indianapolis 500 for the first time on Sunday, surging past defending champion Marcus Ericsson on a restart. Newgarden, a two-time IndyCar champion, waited 11 years to empty the milk jug and kiss the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“We’ve had a tough go here the last three, four years, and we’ve had a lot of questions to answer every day, after every qualifying weekend. We’ve had to come out and put on a brave face,” Newgarden said. “It’s just not an easy place to succeed at. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the fact that if you don’t win the 500, your career is a failure.

“But I think a lot of people view this race and this championship with that lens. The 500 stands alone and if you are not able to capture one, the career really is a failure.”

The win extended Team Penske’s record streak to 19 consecutive Indy 500 victories.

Newgarden, who led for five of the 200 laps, is the first American champion since 2016. His margin of victory – .0974 seconds – is the fourth-closest in the history of the race.

“I’m just so thankful to be here. I started out as a fan in the crowd, and this place is amazing, regardless of where you’re sitting,” Newgarden said in front of 300,000 spectators. “Everyone kept asking why I hadn’t won this race, and they look at you like you’re a failure if you haven’t won it. I knew I was capable. I knew I could.”

The victory didn’t come without controversy. After a series of crashes and restarts, Newgarden was moved from fourth to second and overtook Ericsson with a slingshot maneuver. He held him off the rest of the way.

“I think it wasn’t enough laps to go to do what we did. I don’t think it’s safe to go out of the pits on cold tires for a restart when half the field is sort of still trying to get out on track when we go green,” Ericsson said. “I can’t agree with that.”

Ericsson, driving a Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, was followed by Santino Ferrucci in third and Alex Palou in fourth.