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Indy 500: Josef Newgarden claims back-to-back triumphs after final-lap drama

Josef Newgarden secured victory in the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing' for the second year running after coming out on top in a last-lap battle with Pato O'Ward; the American became the first driver for 22 years to win back-to-back at Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 26: IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden holds up 2 fingers for his second consecutive Indy 500 win after winning the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2024, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
Image: Josef Newgarden celebrates after claiming back-to-back Indy 500 triumphs

Josef Newgarden won a final lap duel with Pato O'Ward to become the first back-to-back winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 22 years on Sunday.

Newgarden's victory capped an eventful afternoon at the Brickyard that saw the start delayed by four hours due to severe storms and the race interrupted by multiple cautions.

Yet the drivers managed to get in all 200 laps around the 2.5-mile oval, but only just with the race finishing in the Indiana sunset right before the 8.15pm (1.15am GMT) curfew.

Newgarden gave the crowd of over 300,000 an American winner on the US Memorial Day weekend holiday. Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon was third.

"I'm just so proud of this team," Newgarden, who took a $440,000 bonus for winning back-to-back Indy 500s, said. "They crushed it - crushed it."

Starting on the front row alongside polesitter Scott McLaughlin and 2018 Indy 500 champion Will Power, Newgarden ran near the front of the pack all day.

But at the end the fight came down to the last-lap shootout with O'Ward, Newgarden sweeping past the Mexican's Arrow McLaren to become just the sixth driver to win back-to-back 500s and the first since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002.

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Josef Newgarden celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Image: Newgarden celebrates with the traditional quart of milk after winning the Indy 500

Newgarden's triumph marked team owner Roger Penske's 20th win of the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing', albeit coming with a whiff of scandal.

Even as Newgarden celebrated chugging from the traditional quart of milk he took a moment to hit back at critics who have labelled him a cheat after his victory at the season-opening IndyCar race in St Petersburg was forfeited for illegal use of the push-to-pass feature that gives drivers a horsepower boost.

An investigation by team owner Penske, who also own the IndyCar series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, resulted in Newgarden's disqualification and sanctioning of several officials including the race outfit's president Tim Cindric and race engineer Luke Mason.

"They can say what they want, I don't even care," Newgarden said. "We worked our tails off.

"Luke, Tim, they're not here today but they are a huge part of this."

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