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Indianapolis 500: Josef Newgarden becomes first repeat winner in 22 years

Josef Newgarden led for 26 laps en route to his Indianapolis 500 victory Sunday in Indianapolis. File Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Josef Newgarden led for 26 laps en route to his Indianapolis 500 victory Sunday in Indianapolis. File Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo

May 26 (UPI) -- Josef Newgarden surged onto Pato O'Ward's bumper, flashed wide and completed a diving pass, taking the lead for the final time Sunday on Turn 3 en route to his second consecutive Indianapolis 500 victory.

"That's the way I wanted to win the thing, right there," Newgarden said on the NBC broadcast.

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The triumph made Newgarden the first repeat champion of the event since Helio Castroneves won in 2001 and 2002.

Newgarden and the rest of the 33-car field waited out a four-hour weather delay before completing the event, which ended with one of the most dramatic finishes in recent memory.

O'Ward placed second, followed by Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and Alex Palou. Kyle Larson, who also plans to compete in tonight's Coca Cola 600 in Concord, N.C., finished 18th.

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The race featured 52 lead changes among 18 drivers on the 2 1/2-mile oval track. Newgarden, who edged O'Ward by just .3417 of a second, led for 26 of 200 laps.

O'Ward led for 11 laps, while Dixon led for 12. Pole winner Scott McLaughlin, who finished sixth, led for a race-high 64 laps.

"I felt like I prepared to have a chance to win," O'Ward said. "It's just heartbreaking. Two corners short. I'm glad that we finished the race. ... I want to win this race so freaking bad."

The race started with a crash on the first lap, with Tom Blomqvist losing control and slamming into Marcus Ericsson. Pietro Fittipaldi also was involved in that collision.

All three drivers were knocked out of the race. Several other dustups resulted in early exits, shrinking the field. Colton Herta, Marco Andretti and 2018 champion Will Power were among the other drivers who failed to finish the race.

McLaughlin was dominant early on, holding the lead for the first 23 laps. Sting Ray Robb, Connor Daly, Christian Rasmussen and O'Ward also jumped to the front of the pack early on, but McLaughlin held the lead after 50 laps.

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Newgarden led after 100 laps and fronted the pack at the midway point. Larson, Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon also exchanged the lead down the stretch before the final duel between O'Ward and Newgarden.

The drama started with O'Ward passing Newgarden as drivers passed the white flag, signifying the final lap, at the start/finish line.

He held on through the next two corners as Newgarden neared. O'Ward attempted to prevent Newgarden from gaining speed with a draft by wiggling his car side to side, but Newgarden then went low toward the grass before quickly shifting his car right.

He went by O'Ward's back right tire and flew toward the wall before another sharp turn to his left. The dive allowed Newgarden to pass his foe. He continued to pull away, careening toward the finish line.

Once he crossed the line, Newgarden stopped his car and jumped out before sprinting to the stands and celebrating among the 300,000 in attendance. O'Ward sulked with his head down on his stopped car, dejected about his heartbreaking finish.

The IndyCar Series season will continue with the June 2 Detroit Grand Prix. That race will air at noon at USA.

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