Simon Pagenaud prevailed in a thrilling 13-lap duel with Alexander Rossi to become the newest face to adorn the BorgWarner with a win in the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

The Team Penske driver led 116 laps to complete the Indy sweep, having won the IndyCar Grand Prix two weekends ago. The win is the 18th for team owner Roger Penske and the 14th of his NTT IndyCar Series career.

The Frenchman started the 500-mile contest from the pole and led the opening four laps when rookie Colton Herta stopped on track with a broken gearbox.

The Frenchman drove a flawless opening stint leading Team Penske Will Power, front row starters Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot, Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi.

Running up front proved consequential as his No. 22 Menards Chevrolet burned more Speedway E85 ethanol and forced him to be the first leader to pit on Lap 32. Power picked up the lead before pitting on Lap 35 which forced the hand of a few drivers - Carpenter, Pigot and Rossi - top pit on Lap 37.

Pagenaud moved back to the lead when the stops cycle finished and continued his blistering pace. He extended his lead over Power up to two-seconds margin over the next 21 laps before making his next pitstop on Lap 64, handed the lead over to Power.

Pigot followed suit two laps later while Newgarden pitted his No. 2 Shell V Power Nitro Team Penske Chevrolet a lap later. Pigot’s owner Carpenter was next in line to pit on Lap 67 followed by Power on Lap 68.

Power’s stop turned ugly when he slid through his stall and contacted a couple of his crew members. The mistake forced an extended stop and dropped the Aussie down to eighth.

Scott Dixon, who had been riding midpack and saving fuel, picked up the lead for three laps and stopped on Lap 72 just before Kyle Kaiser crashed in Turn 4, bringing out the second yellow flag.

Pagenaud reassumed the lead with Carpenter, Newgarden, Rossi and Sebastien Bourdais in tow. Race control assessed Power a penalty for hitting his crew which moved him to the rear of the field.

Pagenaud initially broke away on the Lap 79 restart only to have Carpenter close on his rear wing as he tried to save fuel.

Carpenter couldn’t find his way around and trailed him until he made his next stop on Lap 99. Carpenter and Newgarden then made their next stops a lap apart. Rossi led three laps before stopping on 106.

His stop was a little slow but roared past the second through fourth place runners of Carpenter, Newgarden and Carpenter while Pagenaud held the lead.

Rossi filled the Frenchman’s mirrors but never could mount a charge as Pagenaud once again dominated the stint. Once again, unable to hit the fuel numbers, Pagenaud was the first to begin the fourth pit round when he stopped on Lap 128.

That gave Rossi the lead while Carpenter and Newgarden pitted. The American stretched his fuel out to Lap 137 but had a catastrophic pitstop when his fuel hose malfunctioned. He was saved by the bell when Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie Marcus Ericsson spun on pit lane and brought out the race’s third caution.

Dixon, who was making more fuel than anyone, had just taken the lead but saw his strategy squashed by the yellow and gave up the lead when pitted under the yellow.

The restart came on Lap 148 with Pagenaud leading Carpenter, Newgarden, Bourdais and Rossi. Rossi faltered on the restart but nearly drove into the backstretch grass to make up ground while his Indy-only teammate Conor Daly moved into the top five.

Newgarden meanwhile dispatched Carpenter for second before taking the lead from his teammate on Lap 151. Rossi got caught behind the lapped car of Oriol Servia for a few laps before passing him on Lap 153 and making a furious hand gesture along the way.

Pagenaud trailed his teammate in order to save fuel with Carpenter in third with Rossi moving into fourth past Daly on Lap 162.

Pagenaud pitted on Lap 168 right after leading a lap from Newgarden, who pitted three laps later on Lap 170.

Carpenter, Santino Ferrucci, Power and Takuma Sato took turns leading while pitstop commenced. Pagenaud initially came out in front of Rossi but Rossi chased him down and passed him for essentially the lead of the race as a five-car accident broke out in Turn 3.

Graham Rahal came together with Bourdais while Zach Veach, Felix Rosenqvist and Felix Rosenqvist crashed further back.

All drivers walked away while Veach suffered a knee injury and will need further medical evaluation before gaining clearance to race again.

Spencer Pigot was in front having not made his next stop but pitted under the yellow, moving Rossi back to the lead.

The incident brought out an 18-minute red flag and set up a 13-lap trophy dash to the finish.

Pagenaud rocketed ahead of Rossi in Turn 1 on the Lap 187 restart while Newgarden moved into third ahead of Takuma Sato.

Rossi mounted several charges in Turn 1 for the next 10 laps but was unable to complete the pass. He finally completed the pass in Turn 1 on Lap 197 and built up a slight gap on the 2016 NTT IndyCar Series champion.

A determined Pagenaud slipstreamed past Rossi in Turn 3 coming to take the white flag. He pulled off a magnificent final lap and crossed the yard of bricks .2086 of a second ahead of Rossi.

Sato came home third ahead of the Penske pair of Power and Newgarden. Carpenter finished sixth ahead of Indy 500 rookie of the year Santino Ferrucci in seventh ahead of a pair of former winners - Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan in eighth and ninth as Conor Daly rounded out the top ten in one-off effort for Andretti Autosport.



Loading Comments...