Simon Pagenaud wins his first Indy 500 in a thrilling finish

James F. Peltz, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Auto Racing

INDIANAPOLIS -- Simon Pagenaud outdueled Alexander Rossi in the closing laps to win a thrilling Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

After his cool-down lap, Pagenaud took the unusual step of stopping his car on the Yard of Bricks at the start-finish line of Indianapolis Motor Speedway to acknowledge the crowd that topped 250,000 on an overcast day.

The 35-year-old Frenchman, who started on the pole and led the most laps, then drove into Victory Lane to take the traditional sip of milk as he celebrated his first Indy 500 win.

"We did it!" Pagenaud said. "It's hard to believe right now. The car was just on a rail."

Pagenaud also gave his team owner Roger Penske an unprecedented 18th victory in the Indy 500, by far the most for any team owner.

The victory also gave Pagenaud a sweep for the month of May; two weeks ago he won the NTT IndyCar Series race held on the road course at the Brickyard.

The race's finish turned into a 14-lap shootout that was set up by a multi-car crash. The accident was triggered when Graham Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais touched wheels, which sent both cars spinning in Turn 3.


After an 18-minute, red-flag period during which the cars were stopped while the debris was cleared, Pagenaud (pronounced PAJ-eh-no) and Rossi repeatedly swapped the lead until Pagenaud passed Rossi for the last time with just over a lap to go.

"We just didn't have quite enough there at the end," said Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner who charged back from a botched pit stop Sunday to challenge for the lead. "Unfortunately, nothing else matters here except winning."

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