Simon Pagenaud beats Alexander Rossi to take maiden Indy 500 victory
Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud beat Alexander Rossi to victory at the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500, triumphing in a tense scrap at the Brickyard.
After winning the IndyCar Grand Prix earlier in the Mad Month of May, the Frenchman secured pole position for the Indy 500, being joined on the front row of the grid by Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot.
Leading the field to green, Pagenaud remained in first place for the first five laps before an early yellow flag momentarily halted proceedings, with fifth-placed starter Colton Herta grounding to a halt with a terminal gearbox problem, ending the 19-year-old's debut at the iconic race.
With the green flag waving on lap 11, Pagenaud maintained first place, pitting on lap 32 for a top-up on fuel, with his first-placed position on track resulting in higher fuel consumption.
This allowed Will Power to momentarily take the lead before later pitting while Felix Rosenqvist also held first place for a short period, with the Swede taking a splash of fuel during the first caution period of the 500-mile race, meaning that he could pit later for his second stop.
Lap 56 saw the retirement of Ben Hanley, the Briton experiencing a differential problem while Pagenaud filtered out at the front of the field before a crash for Kyle Kaiser caused a second caution period, with Juncos Racing's fairytale Indy 500 coming to an end in the barriers.
The pit lane was a spot for a large portion of action of the 103rd running of the event, with Helio Castroneves colliding with James Davison to be handed a drive-through penalty while Jordan King wiped out part of his pit crew to also be penalised. Skimming a crew member, Power's chances of taking back-to-back victories at the Indy 500 were eclipsed after the Australian was demoted to the rear of the field.
With the lead switching between Pagenaud, Rossi and Josef Newgarden, the scrap for victory was close. A late caution following a five-car pileup involving Sebastien Bourdais, Graham Rahal, Felix Rosenqvist, Zach Veach and Charlie Kimball ensured that a final sprint to the chequered flag would be on the cards, with a safety car period turning into a red flag.
Seven laps were spent behind the pace car, with Rossi heading Pagenaud, Carpenter, Newgarden and Takuma Sato for a final 13-lap shootout.
Leading the field to the final restart of the 200-lap affair, Rossi was overtaken by Pagenaud into Turn 1 while the American racer reclaimed first from the Frenchman one lap later.
The pair continued to scrap it out for first while Power carved his way through the field to run inside the top five.
With Pagenaud again overtaking Rossi with 11 tours of the circuit remaining, the Andretti Autosport racer bided his time, launching his final attack of the race with three laps to go to reclaim first.
Sitting in Rossi's draft, Pagenaud secured first place with a strong run with just over one lap remaining, performing the overtake late enough in the race to ensure that Rossi would be unable to fight back.
Taking the chequered flag after 200 laps of running, Pagenaud triumphed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to take his maiden Indy 500 victory, with Rossi taking second while Sato claimed third, clearing fourth-placed finisher Newgarden with 10 laps remaining.
Will Power recovered from an early penalty to complete the top five while Carpenter was sixth, followed by rookie Santino Ferrucci, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Connor Daly who completed the top 10.