Newgarden Clinches Consecutive Indy 500 Wins Amid Cheating Controversy

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From the brickyard of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Josef Newgarden once again piloted his Team Penske car to victory, securing his second consecutive Indianapolis 500 victory. The cheers of fans for Newgarden’s victory echoed through the stadium as he navigated his way through a familiar hole in the fence, rejoining the enthusiastic throng for joyous celebrations.

Much like a thrilling movie being replayed, Newgarden’s victory on Sunday bore an uncanny resemblance to his win last year, featuring spur-of-the-moment duels on the track. This time, his competitor was Pato O’Ward. But, beyond the excitement of the duel, a change had been written in the stars for Newgarden.

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Exactly a year prior, Newgarden was a driver marked by sheer determination, he had achieved so much, yet the crown of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” had eluded him. But this past Sunday, he emerged a superstar, having won in the midst of a cheating scandal. The controversy had kept his strategist from the Speedway, even as torrential rains delayed the race.

Newgarden, however, didn’t allow the scandal to cloud his focus. He emerged as the first driver to secure back-to-back Indy 500 victories since Helio Castroneves, repeating the feat from 22 years ago. The win also added a 20th record-extending victory for Roger Penske in the world’s biggest race.

The final lap saw Newgarden overtake O’Ward, becoming the first driver to win consecutive 500s since Castroneves did it for Penske in 2001 and 2002. Just like the previous year, he celebrated victory by clambering through a fence hole, giving life to impromptu revelries with rowdy fans gathered in the grandstands. To quote the jubilant Newgarden, “I’ve got to always go in the crowd if we win here, I am always doing that.”

Newgarden’s back-to-back victories brought him a neat $440,000 bonus from trophy-maker BorgWarner, an award that was established in 1995 and only claimed once before, by none other than Castroneves.

Meanwhile, Roger Penske took in the celebration from high above the Speedway, pumping his fist in exaltation as Newgarden sped past the finish line. Penske’s win tally inside the Speedway soon jumped from “19” to “20,” much to his triumph.

However, while Newgarden basked in victory, Pato O’Ward’s dream of being the inaugural Mexican winner of the Indy 500 was dashed in despair. He grimaced at his steering wheel and unmasked teary eyes from beneath his helmet. The redemptive moment he had sought after being accused of lacking aggression in the 2022 race remained elusive.

O’Ward had challenged, refused to back down, and even crashed out in his charge for victory. Yet, his strategy to pass Newgarden on the final lap backfired as Newgarden reclaimed the lead with a decisive move.

Despite the heartbreak, O’Ward’s spirit remained undaunted. “We had so many near-race enders. Just so close again. … I put that car through things I never thought it was going to be able to do. It’s always a heartbreak when you’re so close…” remarked O’Ward.

However, Newgarden’s recent victory wasn’t just a milestone; it was a redemption song from an earlier tribulation. Last month, he was disqualified for using illegal push-to-pass software in a season-opening victory. Despite the setback and subsequent suspension of four crew members, including Team President Tim Cindric, Newgarden stood resolute.

By claiming victory, he defied critics and slung the shadow cast by the push-to-pass scandal firmly into the past. Newgarden closed his victory speech with triumphant words, “It’s always a team win. This win epitomizes a team victory. I’m thankful for Roger Penske, he stood by me. He’s the man. He’s a legend.”

Despite the rain-delayed start to the race, the event wasn’t without its fair share of bleak affairs. NASCAR star Kyle Larson missed the chance to run “The Double” and two rookie mistakes led to an 18th-place finish. Meanwhile, a first-lap crash took out Ericsson, the 2022 winner, Tom Blomqvist, and Pietro Fittipaldi leaving them unable to complete even a single lap.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.