Kiwi driver Scott Dixon began the Indianapolis 500, which was his 20th consecutive Indy 500, from pole position for the fifth time in his career. He set the fastest pole position winning time in history in the qualifying session last weekend. Dixon last won the famous race in 2008, after starting on pole for the first time, and was looking to improve his Indy 500 pole-to-win conversion rate, which has been relatively poor by his high standards.
Team Penske’s line-up for the race featured both Australia’s Will Power, who came into the race as the Drivers’ Championship leader and started from the middle of the fourth row and New Zealand’s Scott McLaughlin, who took his first IndyCar win at the first round of the season and started the Indy 500 for just the second time. Brazilian driver Hélio Castroneves, who was looking to win the race for a record fifth time, started next to McLaughlin. The grid also included 10-time Formula One podium-sitter Romain Grosjean and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who were both making their Indy 500 debuts.
Dixon got a good start to the race and spent the early stages tactically trading the lead with one of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Alex Palou. The other Chip Ganassi Racing Driver in the field, Marcus Ericsson, had a quiet start to the race but managed to stay in and amongst the battle for the victory.
Rinus VeeKay, who was also running towards the front of the field, crashed out dramatically and became the first driver to retire from the race on the 33rd lap. British rookie Callum Illott had a big crash on the 69th lap, whilst Romain Grosjean suffered a similar accident at the same turn on the 106th lap. Alex Palou was forced to pit under a caution, which led him to receive a penalty.
Kiwi Scott McLaughlin had a big crash, which caused him to slide across the track, at turn three on the 150th lap. His fellow New Zealander Scott Dixon received a drive-through penalty that signalled the end of his challenge for the win, after speeding when making his final pit stop with just 24 laps remaining.
That meant that with just 10 laps remaining, Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson led the race, with Pato O’Ward in second. Ericsson looked to be cruising towards the win, with a three-second lead, before Jimmie Johnson suffered a dramatic crash that caused the race to be red-flagged with just five laps remaining. A two-lap shootout decided the race it went green again. O’Ward challenged Ericsson in the closing stages, with the Mexican driver managing to get side-by-side with the Swede, but Ericsson managed to hold on to win the Indy 500.
Ericsson, who has now won three IndyCar races, becomes just the second Swedish driver to win the race. Dixon broke the record for the most laps led at the Indy 500, but his race ended in heartbreak after a clumsy incident. The race, which awards double points in the championship, means Ericsson now leads the Drivers’ Championship, with O’Ward in second. Australia’s Will Power, who previously led the standings, finished the race in 15th. The next round of the season takes place in Detroit in just a week’s time.