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Josef Newgarden wins Indianapolis 500 for 2nd straight year

Josef Newgarden wins Indianapolis 500 for 2nd straight year

INDIANAPOLIS — Josef Newgarden once again brought his victorious Team Penske car to a stop on the Yard of Bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He found that same hole in the fence, climbed through and was pummeled by fans celebrating his second consecutive Indianapolis 500 triumph.

Everything about his victory Sunday — down to the last-lap duel, this time with Pato O’Ward — seemed just like last year.

The only difference was the circumstances.

A year ago, Newgarden was the hard-luck driver who had accomplished so much yet had never won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” On Sunday, he was the superstar winning in the shadow of a cheating scandal that kept his race strategist from even being inside the speedway for the rain-delayed event.

Newgarden put the scandal behind him to become the first back-to-back winner of the Indy 500 since Helio Castroneves 22 years ago and give Roger Penske a record-extending 20th win in the biggest race in the world.

The Tennessean won a final-lap duel with O’Ward to become the first driver to win consecutive 500s since Castroneves did it for Penske in 2001 and 2002. Newgarden also climbed through the hole in the fence last year to celebrate with fans in the grandstands.

“I love this crowd. I’ve got to always go in the crowd if we win here. I am always doing that,” said Newgarden, who earned a $440,000 bonus from trophy-maker BorgWarner for winning consecutive 500s. The award was established in 1995 and claimed only once previously, by Castroneves.

Penske had been watching the race high above the speedway and pumped his arm in celebration as Newgarden crossed the finish line. He then hugged his wife. It took less than an hour for the placard that designates Penske’s parking spot inside the speedway to be changed from “19” to “20.”

O’Ward, who finished .3417 seconds behind Newgarden, slumped his head over his steering wheel in disappointment. He was trying to become the first Mexican driver in 108 runnings to win the Indy 500.

It looked as if O’Ward had been crying when he finally removed his helmet. He finished sixth in his Indy 500 debut, then fourth and then second in 2022, when he was accused of not being aggressive enough to race Marcus Ericsson for the win.

O’Ward refused to back down last year and wound up crashing as he went for the victory.

As O’Ward bided his time during Sunday’s closing laps — he and Newgarden traded the lead several times — O’Ward waited to make the…

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