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IndyCar Indy 500

Newgarden happy that Indy 500 red flag led to a “good finish”

Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden says he’s “happy” that IndyCar decided to red flag and restart Sunday’s race, which allowed him to grab his maiden victory.

Race control officials opted to throw the red flag on lap 198 after a multi-car collision coming to the green flag with four laps remaining, which left only time for a single-lap, green-white-checkered finish for cars that came straight from the pitlane.

That allowed Newgarden to pass last year's winner Marcus Ericsson to triumph in America's biggest open-wheel race at his 12th attempt.

"Well, I'm happy they did it to give a good finish," said Newgarden. "Obviously if I was in Marcus's situation, I would have said, 'yeah, just end it.'

"There's so many different ways that this could have played out, and you could have said this is fair or that's fair. I've seen it all. At this point I'm just really thankful they did it the way they did.

"I don't really care! I've seen a lot of situations where it didn't go our way.

"It went our way, and I'll take it. I'll take it all day."

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Ericsson had just taken the lead from Newgarden at the point the yellow came out, which meant he was prone to attack on that final lap.

"You were just a sitting duck if you were in the lead," admitted Newgarden, who grabbed the lead off of Turn 2 and held on to it in the drag race to the finish line by swerving in what's been labelled the 'dragon move'.

"It's impossible to not use that [move] because of the ease it is to follow one car. It got even tougher this year. I think sitting in first place was even more difficult than what we've seen in years past, even just last year.

"When I was able to get by him on the back straight, I was actually really surprised how much momentum he still had in [Turns] 3 and 4. He was like super close and had a good run coming off 4, and with that, I thought, I've got to be as aggressive as possible to not let him by.

"Today we had an opportunity to win the race, and I wasn't looking to take anyone else out of the race, but I was going to put my car on the line to win. I was either going to win the race or I'd end up in the wall. I wasn't here to finish second, third, or fourth today. I was here to win.

"So I just did everything I could at the end there."

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet, Crew

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet, Crew

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

In the closing moments, Newgarden swerved into the pit entry lane to deny Ericsson his slipstream, but he says until IndyCar enforces a rule that says otherwise, drivers will continue to do it.

"I was about driving through pitlane," he quipped. "It was legal is all I'm going to say.

"They were very clear that they are not enforcing that line, and they didn't enforce it last year.

"They said they're not enforcing it again, and I'm coming to the checkered flag and I'm going to do everything I can to win this race, and I had to be as aggressive as possible, because the tow effect to just the first car was even more difficult than last year."

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