Simon Pagenaud wins epic Indy 500 after edging out Alexander Rossi
Pagenaud wins his first Indy 500 as Team Penske complete May sweep; Frenchman got the better of Rossi on final lap
By NBC Sports
Last Updated: 28/05/19 7:24pm
Pole-sitter Simon Pagenaud outdueled Alexander Rossi to win the 103rd Indianapolis 500 in a breathtaking finish on Sunday.
Pagenaud and Rossi traded the lead at least a half-dozen times after a restart with 14 laps remaining at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Pagenaud took the lead for good with a lap left (on the last of 29 lead changes) and then darted all across the 2.5-mile oval on the final circuit to hold off a charge by Rossi.
"It's hard to believe right now, to be honest with you," the Frenchman said after leading 116 of 200 laps. "It's been such an intense race. The car was just on rails. The yellows came out perfectly. The stars are aligned.
"It's pretty amazing. It's a dream come true, a lifetime of trying to achieve this. I'm just speechless. I never expected to be in this position. … When you have a car like this, a team like this, it's about executing at the end, and we did execute perfectly. We did it, baby!"
Takuma Sato finished third, followed by Josef Newgarden and Will Power
Pagenaud completed a sweep of May for Team Penske in his No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet, having qualified first for the Indy 500 last weekend after winning the IndyCar Grand Prix two weeks ago.
"What a job Simon's done this month," team owner Roger Penske, whose cars now have a record 18 wins in the Indy 500, told NBC Sports. "Did you see that race? Rossi is one of the best, Simon one of the best. Safe race, great day. What a guy! Can you believe it? He won that thing."
Rossi finished 0.2086 seconds behind in second place and said that "horsepower" was the reason even though the Andretti Autosport star thought he was faster overall than Pagenaud's Chevrolet.
"That's unfortunately the way it is," Rossi told Kelli Stavast on NBC Sports. "They did a great job. Obviously, he was on pole and led the most laps, but I think we had the superior car. We just didn't have enough there at the end. Hats off to the entire NAPA Andretti Autosport team. They've been a fantastic all month, and I'm happy to get them a result. But unfortunately, nothing else matters here but winning.
"This one will be hard to get over."
Ed Carpenter, Santino Ferrucci, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Conor Daly rounded out the top 10.
Rossi loses control
A crash involving Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal during the end of a green-flag pit cycle changed the complexion of the race, putting Rossi in the lead after a major pit-stop problem 40 laps earlier.
But Pagenaud snatched the lead from Rossi with an outside pass on the Lap 187 restart, setting up a spirited battle between the two over the final 35 miles.
Rossi had seemed in control in search of his second Indy 500 win, but disaster struck when he pitted from the lead on Lap 137. Because of a problem with a fuel probe, his team took several extra seconds fueling the No. 27 Dallara-Honda, knocking him from the lead.
The Andretti Autosport driver caught a break when the caution flew shortly afterward for a spin in the pits by Marcus Ericsson, leaving Rossi in fifth for the restart.
He gunned it on the outside, trying to pass Bourdais on the outside into Turn 1. But Rossi was unable to complete the pass and fell to sixth behind Andretti team-mate Conor Daly.
After getting up to fourth, Rossi's strategist, Rob Edwards, gambled with a short-pitting strategy and brought the car in with 32 laps to go, a lap after Pagenaud pitted from the lead.
The first half of the race was relatively free of attrition.
Rookie sensation Colton Herta triggered the first yellow flag when the gearbox broke in his No. 88 Dallara-Honda on the opening laps. Unable to get into sixth gear, Herta's engine expired while coming in to the pits.
Kyle Kaiser, who was among the big stories in qualifying after bumping Fernando Alonso, was involved in the race's first crash when he spun by himself at the exit to Turn Three. The Juncos Racing driver was checked and released from the medical center after his second accident of the month.
"We were coming out of the pits, and I made the wrong decision to go high and caught the marbles in Turn Three, and the car just spun around on us," said Kaiser, who finished 31st.
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