Felix Rosenqvist started the crash when he drifted high into the wall. He was not able to control his car, spun in the middle of the track, and Kyle Kirkwood clipped him at full speed.
A rear wheel was sheared off in the contact and flew over the fence, at the same time Kirkwood slammed hard into the outside wall, tipped upside down, and skidded down the track in a shower of sparks.
Both drivers were free of major injury, and miraculously the tire that hopped the fence landed in a parking lot and damaged a couple cars.
If it had been thrown a couple dozen feet to the side, it would have flown into a packed grandstand and certainly caused serious injuries to attending fans.
Luckily no such thing happened, and the race was resumed without any heavy hearts.
The race was paused twice more for wrecks, which were inevitable considering how tough the drivers at the front were racing each other.
Pato O’Ward was wrecked while racing for a podium position with Marcus Ericsson, and the next restart saw three cars wreck before they even made it to the green flag.
The final shootout for the checkered flag was only a single lap in length, and Marcus Ericsson tried his patented dragon weaving maneuver on the back stretch. Josef Newgarden went around the outside to the lead, then did his own version of the move coming out of turn 4.
Newgarden was so low on the track that he was inside of the pit entrance line before diving back onto the track, and Ericsson was not quite able to reclaim the top spot to win his second in a row.
The win was Newgarden’s first Indy 500 victory in his 12th attempt at the race. He had said multiple times heading into the week that this race was the one thing missing from his career, which already has two IndyCar championships.
The win extends Team Penske’s lead for the record of most Indy 500 wins by a team, and is the first since Roger Penske purchased IMS and IndyCar at the start of 2020.
The veteran parked his car on the yard of bricks after his win, then climbed through a gap in the fence to celebrate among the crowd, which topped 330,000 this year.
Ericsson finished second and Santino Ferrucci put together a valiant effort to score a podium finish, though he was disappointed to not come away with a win after having such a dominant AJ Foyt Racing Chevy all month.
Alex Palou and Alexander Rossi crossed the line fourth and fifth respectively, avoiding the chaos as much as anything to secure their strong finishes.
Palou and Rinus VeeKay looked to be the favorites for the win during the opening portion of the race, which went caution free for nearly half the race, often trading the lead between themselves to save fuel.
That all came to an end in an instant, however, when VeeKay lost control while leaving his pit box. Instead of hitting the pit wall, his car slapped into the side of Palou’s car and slammed him into the wall instead.
Palou was able to continue with a front wing change, and VeeKay was given a drive through penalty for the collision and finished in tenth.
There was an incredible amount of side by side racing throughout the race, and groups of cars that became packed up dangerously at various moments.
The additional downforce brought to the track this year surely helped bring those situations about, and there were a few really close calls within them.
There is hardly any time to celebrate, as the field of drivers will head to a new street course in Detroit, Michigan next weekend.