Back-to-back Indy wins ‘exemplify’ Team Penske – Newgarden

Josef Newgarden paid tribute to both his team and his rival as he soaked up back-to-back Indianapolis 500 victories at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday evening.

The Team Penske driver won after coming out on top from a long and thrilling battle with Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward, which was ultimately decided with a pass on the final lap. The result capped a Month of May where the speed of the Penske cars had been on display from the very beginning, culminating in a lockout of the front row of the starting grid in qualifying last weekend and Newgarden and teammate Scott McLaughlin running among the lead group for much of Sunday’s race.

He also earned the win without the benefit of some of his regular team members, with usual strategist and Penske team president Tim Cindric suspended for the race alongside engineer Luke Mason following the P2P scandal in St Petersburg, and replaced for Indy by longtime Penske figure Jonathan Diuguid – who previously worked on the IndyCar program before moving across to run the team’s sports car division – and Raul Prados respectively. Both became first-time Indy winners.


“This team earned this win the entire month,” Newgarden said. “They’ve earned it the entire year. You have no idea how much effort has gone into this. It’s every individual. That is what Indy exemplifies. It exemplifies the team.

“And to show it in qualifying, to show it in the race is a proud moment for everybody. I’m thankful Jonathan was here. I missed Tim, I missed Luke, but I was just as happy to have Jonathan and Raul. It was different but they’re just as good.

“This team just has no shortage of excellence across the board. I would step into any one of these cars thankfully. You don’t have to be on one program. They’re all great. I think they all contributed to this win, so it was a big team day. Really just appreciative.

“I enjoyed driving today. That’s how I started this year. That’s what I wanted to get back to, and very, very gratifying race to go through with this group.”

Newgarden sealed his victory with a last lap move around the outside of O’Ward in Turn 3, which came after the pair had been swapping places for several laps. Newgarden saluted the way O’Ward raced him, and acknowledged the Mexican’s pain at finishing runner-up for the second time in three years.

“I don’t think [the final pass] works unless you’re racing someone like Pato,” Newgarden said.

“It’s not that Pato didn’t race me hard, he just raced me clean. That move doesn’t work unless you’re racing someone like that. It just doesn’t. It’s very easy [to have that not] work out.

“So I think he’s a tremendous champion. He could have easily won the race himself. He was very capable of that with his team. For us, it worked out. He drove me excellently. I’m very thankful for him and the way that he drove.

“I’m appreciative for the way that he drives. He drove like a champion in this race and he’s just as deserving a winner, in my opinion. He definitely could have won this race. It’s tough to not win it. I can’t say anything to ease that for him. When you don’t win, it hurts. I’ve left here 11 times prior with a broken heart, so I know the feeling. Whether you’re close or you’re far, it’s a broken heart. I can’t ease that.

“But he’s a champion. I think he knows it. I definitely have a lot of respect for him.

“From our side, we left it all on the track. There was nothing that we were going to come home and regret. I definitely felt that way in the final. I’m like, ‘We’re going to put it all on the line.’ You have to if you want to win Indy. That’s just the way it’s got to be, especially nowadays.”

“It was enough. Our car was so fast, and it was pretty good. It was a little hairy at the end as far as the trickiness, but we had it all day as far as the commitment and the car and the team, and we laid it all out there in Turn 3.”

Story originally appeared on Racer