Indy 500: Pagenaud pips Rossi in a thriller

Simon Pagenaud swept the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and extended Team Penske’s Indianapolis 500 legacy in thrilling fashion, holding off Alexander Rossi to win the biggest race of them all, the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday.

Pagenaud pushed the “22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet across the finish line by 0.2086 of a second ahead of Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner. It was Pagenaud’s first win at “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and extended Team Penske’s record for Indianapolis 500 victories to 18.

Takuma Sato, the 2017 Indy 500 winner, overcame an early pit-stop mistake to finish third.

Two of Pagenaud’s teammates at Team Penske, Josef Newgarden and 2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power, finished fourth and fifth, respectively. With double race points awarded, Pagenaud unofficially holds a one-point lead over Newgarden after six of 17 races in the NTT IndyCar Series season.

Santino Ferrucci was the highest-finishing rookie, taking seventh place in the #19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.

The 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile oval featured 29 lead changes among 10 drivers. There were five caution periods for 29 laps, including a six-car incident on Lap 178 involving Sebastien Bourdais, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist, Charlie Kimball and Zach Veach.

Bourdais, Rahal, Rosenqvist and Veach were eliminated in the incident. All of the drivers were checked and released from the IU Health Emergency Medical Center at the track, though Veach was not cleared to drive pending further examination of a right knee injury. The race was red-flagged for 18 minutes to allow the AMR IndyCar Safety Team and track workers to clean the debris.

When the race resumed on Lap 187, it became a memorable duel between Rossi, who restarted first in the “27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda, and Pagenaud. They swapped the lead five times, the last when Pagenaud made an outside move on the Californian heading into Turn 3 on the next-to-last lap.

Rossi unsuccessfully tried three times to return the favor one more time, but Pagenaud held fast to become the fourth Indy 500 winner born in France and first since Gil de Ferran in 2003.

The NTT IndyCar Series returns to action May 31-June 2 with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, the only doubleheader weekend on the 2019 schedule.

2019 Indy 500 Race Timeline

12:55 p.m.

  • The Indianapolis 500 has begun on time amid concerns rain might impact the 103rd running of the showcase race.
  • Retired NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove the pace car, Mario Andretti was honored before the race on the 50th anniversary of his win and Simon Pagenaud started from the pole for Team Penske on the 50th anniversary of the team’s first Indy 500 start.
  • Colton Herta’s car rolled to a stop with smoke billowing out from the back of his car after just six laps, bringing out the first yellow flag of the race.

1:05 p.m.

  • Rookie Colton Herta is the first driver out of the Indianapolis 500.
  • The 19-year-old Herta started fifth in Sunday’s race for Harding Steinbrenner Racing and hopes were high for the young driver who won at Texas.
  • But a gearbox problem on the fourth lap ended his day early, and he has now failed to finish any of the four races since he found victory lane.

1:25 p.m.

  • Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was assessed a drive-through penalty after hitting James Davison on pit lane early in the race.
  • The Brazilian damaged Team Penske’s No. 3 car while the incident spun Davison sideways and sent a tire bouncing across pit lane. Davison’s crew pushed the car back into the proper pit box.
  • Pole winner Simon Pagenaud and defending race winner Will Power, both teammates of Castroneves, continued to hold the top two after 45 laps of the 200-lap race.

1:45 p.m.

  • Kyle Kaiser of feel-good story Juncos Racing has brought out the caution flag in the Indianapolis 500 after spinning in Turn 4 and hitting the outside wall.
  • Kaiser was in a higher line with Sage Karam below him and went up the track, hitting the outside wall.
  • The wreck came moments after Jordan King locked up entering the pits and slid into his right-front tire changer. The pit crew member was helped over the wall and checked by medical staff.
  • Rookies Ben Hanley and Colton Herta are already out of the race.
  • Hanley slowed abruptly as he detected a suspension problem before navigating his way across the 2.5-mile oval and into pit lane. The DragonSpeed team’s crew replaced the tires and sent him back onto the track but one tire was not spinning and the crew ended up pushing him back into the pit box.
  • Herta was the first driver out of the race. He was towed in with a gearbox problem after completing just four laps of the 200-lap race.

2:10 p.m.

  • Simon Pagenaud headed to the pits on Lap 99 of the Indianapolis 500, leaving local boy Ed Carpenter in the lead as the race hit the midway point and became official.
  • Most of the drama so far has been on pit road.
  • Helio Castroneves was penalized for hitting James Davison, Jordan King hit a crew member and Will Power bumped his own fueler on a stop. Power was ordered to the back of the field.
  • Pagenaud has dominated the race from the pole after leading just 36 laps total in his seven previous Indy 500 starts. But he’s been struggling with fuel mileage, which could play a factor later in the race.

2:30 p.m.

  • Chris Minot, a crew member with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, has been transferred to Indiana University Methodist Hospital for evaluation of a leg injury.
  • He was injured when rookie Jordan King hit him along pit lane.
  • Minot initially was taken to the track’s infield medical center and then was transported to the nearby hospital.
  • Minot’s injury was the only one stemming from a series of pit-lane miscues, which included defending champion Will Power being sent to the rear of the field on a restart for hitting one of his crew members.

3:10 p.m.

  • Graham Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais brought out the red flag with 23 laps to go in the Indianapolis 500 when they touched wheels down the backstretch and triggered a heavy five-car wreck.
  • Felix Rosenqvist, Charlie Kimball and Zach Veach also were involved.
  • Rahal had gone low to pass Bourdais when he got squeezed heading into Turn 3, and the brief touch of tires sent both into the fence. Rahal already was gesturing wildly at Bourdais before the cars came to rest next to each other, and he quickly jumped from his car to get in his face.
  • James Hinchcliffe neatly avoided the wreck, slipping through a crack between sliding cars as his spotter shared rapid-fire guidance over the radio.

4 p.m.

  • Simon Pagenaud has won his first Indianapolis 500, making an audacious pass of Alexander Rossi before taking the white flag and holding off the hard-charging driver from Andretti Autosport.
  • Pagenaud’s victory after an incredible duel with Rossi completed a sweep of the Month of May for him. He came into the season trying to hang onto his job with Team Penske, and a brazen move near the end of the Indianapolis Grand Prix gave him a win two weeks ago.
  • His latest win gave team owner Roger Penske his 18th victory in his 50th year at the track.
  • Takuma Sato was third, Josef Newgarden fourth and defending champion Will Power was fifth.

4:10 p.m.

  • Simon Pagenaud took an unconventional route to victory lane, stopping his car on the front stretch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to celebrate his dramatic Indy 500 win with fans.
  • Once he arrived, he said: “Sorry, that took a little while.”
  • Pagenaud proceeded to dump the traditional milk right over his head, leaving nothing in the bottle when he tried to take a sip. The veteran French driver called it “a dream come true” to win the 103rd running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
  • Pagenaud says his car was “on rails” down the stretch, when he dueled with Alexander Rossi for the win. Pagenaud wound up leading 116 laps in a dominant Chevrolet from Team Penske.